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Through A Google
March 17, 2014
Whether de rigueur or merely an occupational hazard, a love of technological
gadgets is commonplace in computing. We know the endorphin-fueled euphoria of an early adopter, one willing
to tolerate the failings of immature and
possibly transient technologies.
Oh, how I loved my RIM 870, which
made me a two-thumbed typist and allowed me to send email on the Data TAC
network, long before the word BlackBerry conjured any vision other than
breakfast jam! I wore a Microsoft Sense-Cam, learning that email, coffee, and
meetings defined my life.
My desk and closet are filled with
“might have been” and “never were”
technological artifacts. From a sub-
compact Poqet PC through an Apple
Newton PDA to Ricochet network cards
to a collection of bulky, CGA-based
head-mounted displays (HMDs), I have
difficult, especially about the future.
Attribute the quote to whomever you
choose—Yogi Berra, Niels Bohr, or
Mark Twain—its veracity remains.
My first impressions of Glass were gen-
erally positive, but I expected that; I
have decades of Pavlovian condition-
ing to embrace technology prototypes
with joyful abandon. Software configu-
ration took most of an afternoon, as I
connected my social networks to Glass
and configured news feeds to balance
timeliness and frequency, lest breaking
news of the underwater basket-weaving
championship interrupt my reflections
on the dismal state of research funding.
Not surprisingly, these networks were
heavily Google-centric, though I found
the inability to send images to an arbi-
trary email address somewhat limiting.
Ok, Glass, take a picture …
Because I am sufficiently myopic
that escaping a broom closet is visually
challenging, I wondered if it would be
practical to wear Glass in front of my
normal glasses, rather than fitting it to
the custom Glass frames. Pleasantly,
the answer is yes, if one carefully ad-
justs the prism. The screen is relatively
bright and unobtrusive, and the head
tilt adjustment angle simplifies screen
activation and menu selection.
Is Glass a substitute for a smartphone? No, but it is not intended as
such. Rather, it is a social and technical
experiment in digital immersion and
social commerce, from instant context
sharing to walkabout video conferencing. In all of those things, it succeeds.
played with my share of bright, shiny
toys. Today, Google Glass shines oh, so
bright, with technological promise and
All of which reminds me of the
first time I pulled out an early Motorola cellphone in an airport terminal, after an airline canceled one
of my flights. This was in the early
days of AMPS service, when mobile
telephones were large and bulky and
roaming service had yet to appear. As
I called my office to rebook travel, a
group of businesspeople gathered
around me in wonder at this amazing
and heretofore unknown technology.
Years later, I was reflecting on the
societal transformation wrought by
mobile telephony as I listened to a
middle manager obliviously pace an
airport concourse while systematically firing the unsuspecting members
of some company team via cellphone.
In ictu oculi, sic transit gloria mundi!
I have been wearing Google Glass
(hereafter, Glass) intermittently as
both a technical assessment of utility and as a social study in human dynamics and expectations. What does
the future hold? Prediction is very
Daniel Reed shares his experiences with Google Glass, while
Chris Stephenson considers the kinds of support chapters of the
Computer Science Teachers Association provide their members.