Sunday, December 17, 2017
Opinion

This Glass half empty, Google

I am a cyborg, but I'm not a very good one.

I got Glass. Technically, just having Google Glass does not fit the correct definition of cyborg. I realize this.

"Okay, Glass," I say. "Google: cyborg." I then learn I pronounce things oddly.

"5 Ward," Glass googles. Then "sorry board." (It shows me some lovely images of Sorry boards.) Then "psyborg." ("Psyborg is a branding, graphic design, web design and interactive media studio focused on creative and useable. . . .") "nothing sorry board." "keyboard." "No no not bored." "psych ward." "tribal Aug," which doesn't even make sense. "51."

Then I yell "HOMOPHONES! HOMOPHONES EXIST YOU BLAZING MORON!" and it turns itself off.

Technology-wise, I am from the time-honored school of Yell At It and Maybe It'll Start Doing What You Want. It is good that I have no children.

As an only child, I have spent most of my life walking down the street talking to myself and acting like a total weirdo, so I was well prepared for the experience of owning Google Glass. In order to activate it with your head, using the default settings, you have to do a 30 degree backward head-tilt. So you walk down the street looking like a headbanger arguing with a ghost. "Okay, Glass," you say. "Dang it. Okay, I have it this time. Okay, Glass."

Your other option is to work it by tapping the side of your head with your finger, Professor X-style. This is great if your dream is to be Professor X, but it makes social interaction weird, because you are just sitting there tapping the side of your face. Then again, this is the closest I have ever come to reading what others are thinking: "Who is this weirdo, and how did she get Google Glass?"

It also keeps you on your toes. It's like playing an improv game at all times. You have to know exactly what your next move is or it'll shut you off.

I let one person try it at a bar, and he insisted it was "one of the best days of his life." I hope not. His fiancee was there. Presumably the day they met was better? The day he proposed? It's just a headband that lets you Google things.

No. Blasphemy. It's The Future.

And nothing compares to my rabid, dogged devotion to The Future. Is Google Glass everything I dreamed and more? Most of my dreams are nightmares about being called upon to use algebra in the real world, so this is better than that. But not much. It's like carrying the Fandango lady around with you at all times. "Skynet," you say. "Scott I knew it."

Do I bump into things? Not more than I do walking around with a cellphone. Probably less.

Even when you get it to work, you wonder. Is this a Segway? Or is this an iPhone? Is it Google Plus, or is it Facebook? This isn't the future, it's the present, so it's hard to say.

The worst thing about Google Glass so far is that it forces you to look up and talk to people. I thought we had agreed that this was a thing of the past.

Right now we're in a peak era of text. You text your friends. You text your relatives. You text even if you can't spell. You don't talk. You Gchat. But now Glass seems to want me to talk. Video chats, phone calls — I even have to talk to get it to transcribe my awful, rambly emails. I thought we'd all agreed this was awkward and wrong. If this works as planned, we're going to be interacting with actual humans more, not less. Are we sure we want this?

I don't believe any of this is Google's fault. It was doing the best it could, but I'm just not up to the task. It's from the 2070s, and I'm a '90s chick.

FreeDictionary.com, a site I have reached by manually typing it in on my computer, because Google Glass is being downright contumacious, informs me that "a cyborg is a person whose physiological functioning is enhanced by mechanical or electronic devices."

"Enhanced" would be strong.

© 2013 Washington Post

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