The Face of Glass: Banned in San Fran?

glass banned

The class war between the techlords and the commoners continues in San Francisco: According to Business Insider, a growing number of Friscoan bars and restaurants are banning Glassholes.

Here is a link to an excellent report from the frontlines of that war by Susan Cagle: Through the Watching Glass: On privacy, etiquitte, and the ever-expanding Glasshole

A quote or two from the Cagle article:

“To be fair, there’s every possibility that Google Glass will change society just as deeply and profoundly as did the Segway, a technologically nifty machine that now serves primarily to identify its owner as a complete dork with far too much money,” Chris Clarke wrote at KCET last year.


There’s a case to be made that wearable technology can connect oneself to one’s environment more than it isolates, by providing context that we otherwise wouldn’t see. But often it’s the rest of the world that bears the burden of that. The data ones face collects could be used and monetized by Google or the third-party applications Glass runs. While that may be the choice of the wearer, there is little to no agency on the other side of the Glass eye prism.


“In its obviousness, it announces an entitlement. It doesn’t have the decency to realize it’s being creepy,” one Glass user in the tech industry told me on condition of anonymity. “I had no bias against it when I got it. I just realized it’s good for basically nothing except being a jerk.”


Do you know how often you’re surveilled in a single day? It’s probably hard to even count.  …the gadget perpetuates a dynamic that looks like a privileged class — both private citizens and corporations as well as secretive government forces — purchasing the tools to surveil those without means.

“Glass is definitely for now a plaything for a privileged few. And I think that, coupled with how deeply weird and noticeable it is, is what makes it a class divide on your face,” Wired writer Mat Honan tells me. “Glass is a terrible surveillance tool, at least in its current form. Absolutely useless. Now, five or ten years from now, when it is invisibly embedded in a pair of Warby Parker frames? That’s a different story. Of course, by then, it won’t be a tool of the elites anymore either. Just everyone shooting everything everywhere, constantly, all the time, forever.”

This future is nearly here. The city of Oakland is currently embroiled in the process of finalizing a plan for a surveillance fusion center that would combine public camera footage with social media streams, license plate reader photos and other forms of data in a project bankrolled by the Department of Homeland Security.

It’s hardly a paranoid fantasy to imagine that Google Glass users in the city might find their “lifecasting” streams directed into this big data pool. This dystopian vision only grows darker with the growing potential for tying in facial recognition software.


While tools can certainly facilitate bad behavior, technology does not breed human monsters.

This is essentially the defense of the aggressive, entitled Glass-wearer: We’ve already decided against privacy, we’ve given it up, there’s nothing left to preserve, and to wish or work toward any other future is to be an enemy of technology’s promise.

In many ways this particular new tech does not necessitate new fundamental relations — it just reveals how deeply we’ve already broken those relations and how much we’ve already lost.

And of course, Glass begets Anti-Glass, as a company seeks to cash in on fear of Glass.



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