Google Travelogue Diminishes Genius Of Glass

According to some or other social network, I recently blew right past my 12th anniversary of working at Self Employed. While this is an achievement on par with successfully drinking a liquid substance from a vessel with well-rounded edges, I had nobody with whom to celebrate it.

Out here in the suburbs, especially during workdays, it’s a lonely life. As a result, I’ve become “that guy,” the one all the neighbors have rightfully identified as the lite-conversational equivalent of a viral contagion. I’ve gotten wise to their tactics, though: I no longer participate in discourse about the weather or the local team of sports within reach of a fire alarm or any apparatus that might be used for self-sabotage. You want to hang yourself with your own shoelaces, you can do so after you hear my theories about the township’s deliberate neglect of potholes on the roadways I traverse most often, bub.

All of that is to say: I don’t need another means of isolating myself from my fellow sentient beings. That’s why I’ll likely be the last kid on the block to plug into Google Glass. It sounds turbo-neat -- like a no-hands, video-enabled, Google-trawling computer for my face -- but my research and navigation needs, such as they are, are ably serviced by the smartphone in my pocket.

And yet I can’t stop consuming any/all information about each successive Glass iteration, no matter how insignificant. The Internet has fed this compulsion; there are almost as many user-posted Glass FAQs and video tutorials as there are day-after “Mad Men” recaps. Now that Google itself has gotten into the act, well, nobody who wants in on the Glass voyeurism will be denied.

I’m not sure what I think of “Seeds,” the first Google-stamped Glass video to go viral, though. On one hand, its payoff packs an emotional wallop for anybody who’s similarly situated to the clip’s mostly unseen protagonist (cut to LD with tears puddling on his cheeks, wishing he’d been 1/700th as creative with the reveal to his own mother). On the other, “Seeds” actually casts the product in its least ambitious light to date. It takes videos? So does everything else.

We don’t see Glass during the clip, nor do we see the wearer depicted in the act of eye-rolling or air-swiping or whatever it is a Glass user does to toggle between tasks. Rather, we see what Glass sees over the course of a planes/trains/automobiles/boats/pedicab-like-contraptions journey from San Francisco to India (the clip, in fact, was shot entirely on Glass). We see rice and boarding passes and wristwatches adjusted between time zones and the protagonist’s extended arm dangling outside the confines of whatever vehicle happens to be transporting him at that moment (way to promote irresponsible safety practices to today’s impressionable tech-happy social-media selfie YOLO Tinder teens, Mr. Dangerous Behavior Man).

The message here: Glass isn’t about the technology, friend. It’s about the heart. It’s about the spirit. It’s an implement of emotional conveyance, rather than a gogglicious way to show off that you’re connected enough to be a part of the most recent beta release. Right?

For lack of a more elegant way to put it, that’s a load of horsepoop. Only a thin sliver of the population can experience even part of what’s depicted in the clip, yet the makers (per YouTube, “alumni and students from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts as part of the Glass Creative Collective”) attempt to portray the Glass experience as universal, or universal come a few months from now, or 2016, or whenever. As such, “Seeds” amounts to little more than a supremely disingenuous tease.

Also, without giving away the ending, what kind of person travels halfway around the world waving an official-looking manila envelope to and fro? Someone who’s begging for a mugging, that’s what kind. Oh, the common-sense leaps budding filmmakers take in the name of moving along the plot.

I don’t want to want Google Glass, because I am perfectly capable of walking into stationary objects without a cyberdistraction flitting at the periphery of my vision. To that end, “Seeds” is the first piece of content -- issued either by Google or by a first-gen user -- that makes Glass seem little more than a techno-status symbol. For a device that’s going to change the way we go about our daily business, that’s an achievement of a more dubious kind.

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1 comment about "Google Travelogue Diminishes Genius Of Glass".
  1. Bob Gordon from The Auto Channel , May 15, 2014 at 5:19 p.m.
    Great read...i better remember to turn off record mode when i have to shake the snake, or dump a lump...i can't wait for the glasses' POV porn...