Friday, March 22, 2013

Why banning Google Glass is premature, unrealistic

by Brian Bruns, Columnist

By now I’m sure some of you have heard of Google Glass — a pair of glasses with the ability to take real time video and stream it to the web.
  
Seattle’s 5 Point Cafe has already tweeted against allowing anyone with the specs on into their establishment, even encouraging physical violence if patrons don’t get the point.

In a tweet, the cafe said “[butt] kickings will be encouraged for violaters.”
   
Humorous threats of physical violence aside, I don’t disagree with their decision to ban Glass. I think they certainly have the right to try.
   

But setting such an aggressive tone this early is a mistake. Insulting those who may be interested in buying Glass by comparing them to people who constantly wear fanny packs and a Bluetooth — as a message on their website does — is just asking for internet mob retribution.
   
On Glass’ release day, 5 Point management shouldn’t be surprised when a thousand people wearing fanny packs, Bluetooths and Glass descend on its cafe just to thumb their collective noses at the policy. The owners of 5 Point Cafe should know better than to feed a troll.
   
Some critics say that may be what 5 Point Cafe is really after. I personally don’t think it’s a publicity stunt — business can’t possibly be that slow at 5 Point —but it could definitely turn into one.
   
The comments on 5 Point’s page vary. Some supported 5 Point’s decision, citing their wish for the bar to remain private. Some even called potential Glass users Big Brother’s minions. Others said that cameras were just part of life nowadays and called supporters paranoid technophobes.
   
I’m pretty much the last generation of Americans to experience life before the digital revolution. If you’ve ever recorded your own cassette tape or had to use the family encyclopedia to do a school paper, then you too can include yourself in that category.
   
Popular technology can change the world — radios, cell phones, the Internet. I can predict with relative certainty that someone will buy a pair of Google Glass and start using them.
  
There are always innovators who purchase products on the cutting edge of the market. Once Jay-Z or some other celebrity is spotted wearing Glass, it’s only a matter of time before someone you know has a pair too.
   
Technology forces us to redefine public privacy every day in America. Our society is saturated with cameras — cell phones, police dash cams, red light cameras, ATM cameras. The list goes on and on.  It’s too late to turn back now.
   
I understand 5 Point’s ownership wanting to preserve the privacy of its patrons. Hey, I never wanted people to start taking phone calls in a movie theater, but it happened. And it keeps happening by the way.
   
I’m all for privacy, but I don’t really expect it when I go out to eat. In fact, privacy outside of your own four walls may be a foregone concept. People will use the coolest things they can afford to buy and continue changing the way we communicate and share with each other.
   
There are bound to be times when that activity collides with someone’s privacy constraints. As unstoppable as technological advances may seem, I believe American society must have some limit as to how much privacy it’s willing to surrender to invention.
   
The next few generations will be among the pioneers in deciding what those limits will be.

    Brian Bruns is a father, a husband and a U.S. Army veteran. Sarcasm, wit and a good cup of coffee are all keys to his success. He can usually be spotted Thursday night working for Mast TV’s News @Nine or Friday nights hosting Lutes, Listen Up! on LASR.