Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: Google Glass will be a big deal, so deal with it

Perhaps no group has earned a borderline obscene pejorative as quickly as the wearers of Google Glass. I mean, the product, not due for release until early next year, is seen in the wild today only on the few thousand who are its early testers. And yet we already

have the term " glasshole." Google Glass has also been banned ahead of its release. This all seems to stem from the belief, voiced by writers such as Jason Perlow, that Google Glass is evil, since "it's a 'stealth' recording device."

My advice to anyone freaking out over Glass: Get over it.

Sure, there is something unsettling about the evolution of Glass. Eventually, you are going to have to look really closely to tell whether a pair of eyeglasses is computerized. And there's no question that Glass can be used in socially unacceptable ways. But personally, I'm a lot more bothered by the constant cracking of websites holding personal information than I am by the idea that someone could record me in the restroom.

No question: Glass is going to change how we think about privacy in public spaces. But such rethinking has already been necessary for years. Smartphones required it. For that matter, so did the invention of the camera.

In the past few weeks, I've seen people using smartphones to take photos, record videos, tweet and text during live performances in Broadway theaters and at rock 'n' roll music venues. In every restaurant I've patronized, at least a fifth of the people were locked into their tablets and smartphones, even as the people at the table with them were talking. I don't like it, and I'm not one of those people. But the genie is out of the bottle. Google Glass is just the next step toward the collapse of the barrier between the private and the public.

There's always good and bad with these sorts of developments. Sure, phone cameras brought us upskirt photos, but they also were the means of exposing the prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib. And there's nothing new about personal computing in the public sphere. There isn't even anything new about wearable computers. I first used a Xybernaut Poma Wearable PC in 2002. The technology made you look like a member of the Borg collective from Star Trek and was about as popular as being assimilated. With Google Glass, though, resistance might be futile.

With Google Glass and its imitators, that is. Other companies, such as Apple, Baidu and Telepathy, are building their own wearable computers. Indeed, I'll be very surprised if Google Glass is the first such product to market. And the technology won't be for nerds only. There are just far too many ways Google Glass and its cousins can be useful for this to be anything but a success. When you're conducting a job interview, you can unobtrusively look at the applicant's resume on LinkedIn or check what he's been posting publicly on Facebook. Your mechanic will be able to throw schematics onto his heads-up display as he works on your engine.

So stop crying about Google Glass and get used to how it's going to accelerate the blending of the public and the private. Yes, it's scary. But all sea-change technologies are frightening at first. The sooner you adapt, the sooner you'll be able to profit from it instead of being paralyzed by it.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was cutting-edge and 300bps was a fast Internet connection -- and we liked it! He can be reached at

Read more about mobile/wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Mobile/Wirelessconsumer electronicsGoogleNetworkingsecuritywirelesssmartphonesmobileprivacy

More about AppleFacebookGoogleTopicTrekXybernaut

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts