An essay titled “The future of the future” written in 1977 by British sci-fi author JG Ballard has recently re-surfaced where he makes a remarkably accurate predication about social media.
Published in Vogue magazine at the time, Ballard wrote:
“Far more sophisticated devices have begun to appear on the scene, above all, videos systems and micro-computers adapted for domestic use…
Every one of our actions during the day, across the entire spectrum of domestic life, will be instantly recorded on video-tape. In the evening we will sit back to scan the rushes, selected by a computer trained to pick out only our best profiles, our wittest dialogue, our most affecting expressions filmed through the kindest filters, and then stitch these together into a heightened re-enactment of the day.”
One can’t help but think Ballard was describing the concept of wearable technology such as Google Glass, and how it can turn everyday life into a form of entertainment.
The everyday application of Glass raised an interesting debate here at cubaka HQ. How will Google protect the privacy of those not using Google Glass? Glass can allow users to secretly film or take photos without any suspicion for members of the public.
There’s an argument to say that this can already happen, for example there’s nothing stopping someone from secretly recording you on their smartphone as you walk down the street and uploading that to YouTube. But the issue with Glass is that it’s not immediately obvious what the user is doing and you could potentially tag the subject, post it onto their social spaces, and access other personal information about them that’s available online. The imminent arrival of Glass will change what is perceived to be a social norm in terms of mobile communication, and it surely must signal a change in privacy policies.
This debate is also currently happening in the United States where Senator Joe Barton asked Google to explain how they plan to protect the data and privacy of non-users who could be identified through the technologies in Glass. Google are understandably being coy in their response to the Senator’s questions about the privacy issues associated with their prototype technologies.
But there are definitely lots of things that need to be ironed out before we see the mass roll out of Glass. For now though I’m personally looking forward to seeing more novel uses like a recent example from the Wimbledon Championships.
Wimbledon fortnight is one of my favourite times of the year, so when I read that American tennis player Bethany Mattek-Sands is part of the Explorer programme testing Google Glass I was really excited to see it being used on the tennis court. Unfortunately, Miss Mattek-Sands didn’t don the high tech specs in her opening match and was subsequently knocked out in the first round so we didn’t get a chance to see a live match through her eyes (although she did wear them during a practice session). How fantastic would it be if one day rather than watching Andy Murray win the Wimbledon title from the view in the stands, we could watch that winning moment from the champion’s perspective.
Damian Pang is an Account Manager at cubaka.