Google Glass is now targeted as symbol by anti-tech
crowd with concerns about privacy of other individuals especially in public places.
Glass, Google’s high-profile entry into the world of
wearable tech, may help launch a revolution if it’s
released later this year as expected.
But test models
already on the street have begun playing a more
unlikely role — as symbols in a simmering fight over
Silicon Valley’s impact on the city of San Francisco.
Currently,It’s a local story, but one with ramifications
While our smartphones drop easily into
pockets and tablets get zipped up in cases or
backpacks, wearables such as Glass are, quite literally,
in your face all the time.
The $1,500 device, which displays Web content on a
tiny screen, signals its wearer as a likely member of an
affluent tech elite.
And Glass also can discreetly shoot
photos or video, which some people view as invasive.
That’s caused unease for some folks and, in some
cases has led to arguments, altercations and even
attacks against people wearing the technology.
Kyle Russell, a reporter for Business Insider, wrote
Sunday that he was walking home after covering a
protest march against a Google employee who
reportedly had bought a property and then evicted its
He was wearing, but not using, the eyewear “when a
person put their hand on my face and yelled, ‘Glass!’ In
an instant, the person was sprinting away, Google
Glass in hand.”
Russell says he ran after the woman, who then
“pivoted, shifting their weight to put all of their
momentum into an overhand swing.
The Google Glass
smashed into the ground, and they ran in another
In the column, Russell said he thinks the protest and
attack Friday were linked, though he does not think
the woman who did it was at the march.
“My love for gadgets makes me look and sound like
one of the people whom residents of the city have
come to feel oppressed by,” he wrote.
“The individual who smashed my Google Glass on
Friday — because of political beliefs or a personal
impact that has been made by the tech industry — felt
that it was appropriate to destroy my personal
property in protest against what I seemed to stand for,
based on my appearance; never mind the irony in
choosing to assault someone based on their
appearance as a way to preserve San Francisco’s
culture,” he wrote.
In recent months, tensions have run high in San
Francisco over the perceived role that tech-industry
giants have had on the city.
Protesters complain that
an influx of highly paid tech workers is driving up
rents, forcing out longtime residents and robbing the
city of its famously eccentric character.
Most of the anti-tech fervor has focused on big-name
companies such as Google and Twitter and the private
bus systems that ferry their employees from the city to
various corporate headquarters in Silicon Valley.
But individual employees are increasingly being
Just last week, protesters picketed in front of the
private home of Kevin Rose, co-founder of Digg and
now a partner with Google Ventures.
who posted signs calling Rose a “parasite,” claimed his
group, which helps Google decide which startups to
invest money in, has helped to inflate prices in the
Friday’s march targeted Jack Halperin, an attorney for
Google, who protesters say bought a building, where
he intends to live, and evicted tenants who had been
Glass as a flashpoint
But while the tensions over housing in San Francisco
have been bubbling for some time, it’s relatively new
for Glass to be targeted, either over privacy concerns
or as a presumed symbol of the tech industry as a
In late February, a woman says she was attacked at a
bar on San Francisco’s famous Haight Street after
fellow patrons began heckling her and trying to rip
Glass off of her face.
In a video Sarah Slocum shared with KRON-TV, a
woman can be heard saying “You’re killing the city”
while approaching Slocum and apparently trying to rip
the headset off of her face.
Another man is shown similarly trying to grab the
Slocum said the man eventually took the
headset and ran out of the bar with it.
She was able to
retrieve her Glass but says her purse and phone were
Google did not respond to a message requesting
comment for this story.
But the company is clearly cognizant of the concerns
some people have about Glass and has acted to
encourage “Explorers” — people who have been
publicly field-testing the devices since early last year —
not to behave in ways that stoke anti-Glass sentiment.
In February, the company issued a list of tips for
Explorers that included not being “creepy or rude (aka
a ‘Glasshole’).” Other advice included always asking
permission before taking a photo or shooting a video of
someone, and being careful not to “Glass out,” or just
sit idly with the device on when others are around.
It’s hard to know whether the San Francisco attacks
were just isolated incidents or whether others might
be targeted similarly.
One suspects that when the
digital headsets become widely available, presumably
later this year, people will become more accustomed to
Slocum, the woman attacked in the San Francisco bar,
hopes potential users won’t be discouraged.
“I hope this incident doesn’t deter people from wearing
Google Glass, because 95% of the time, my experience
is 180 degrees different,” she told KRON.
are just excited, curious.
I usually end up
demonstrating them, showing them to people, letting
them try them on.”
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