I had some questions from friends of friends on Facebook with regards to my experiences as a #glassexplorer
for the last week. My response is reproduced here:
"Glass is a bit of a paradox regarding connectivity to the world. The intuitive impression is that there's this computer on your face mediating reality and disconnecting you from it, but the reality is, people are already very disconnected from the world when they choose to disengage from the world and engage with a smartphone. Maybe Glass is no better in regard to the temptation to context switch in response to a notification, but the amount of time that the person needs to be engaged with Glass is significantly lower.
In our lives, and in technology, if things take much less time to do, people start to do those things in qualitatively, rather than just quantitatively, different ways. I'd predict that it will be easier to get information "satiety" when the engagement with the device is brief and satisfying. Certainly, there are people who fiddle with their smartphones as a crutch to avoid interaction during social events, especially as a fidget in the lulls of conversation, but that's a social etiquette problem that goes way beyond any particular piece of technology.
When I'm face to face with people, I accord them a very high priority in my attention. Wearing Glass will not change that. When the device is idle, it quickly fades into invisibility, both for the wearer and people who interact with the wearer. As I've talked to the Googlers on the Glass team over this last week, they've worked very hard to design a wearable computer that especially does not get in the way, and doesn't pull you out of what you're doing. The screen does not even turn on when getting a notification: there is just a discreet chime through the bone conduction speaker -- which itself is designed so that you do not need to cover your ear with a headphone and block out sounds coming in from the world. Since their design philosophy is all about the device serving us, and only activating when we want to allocate our attention to it, advertisement as we know it today will never be part of the experience. I think the advertising mechanisms on Glass will be more along the lines of searching for a nearby restaurant category, and getting prioritized results -- since the device is so unlike any other form factor, it will take time to figure out what would work best without detracting from the experience.
Finally, I think it's helpful to look back to the predictions people made about the iPhone and Android around 6 or 7 years ago, or Facebook around 9 years ago, or video games, or rock and roll, or any brand new technology going back for all of human history. A vocal, but small minority, had predicted doom and gloom, moral corruption, collapse of social systems, and so forth as a result of introducing something new. Then, you wait a few years, and those new things are now in commonplace use by everyone -- things we can't imagine living without. The arguments are almost invariably the same, regardless of what the new technology is, or what its potential benefits are.
I've contextualized this in terms of the curve of diffusion of innovation -- and started mapping these sentiments onto the different categories of the curve (innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, laggards). As an innovation goes through the process between invention and ever-presence, people react differently to that innovation, and everyone has a different place on the curve for different innovations -- though for similar product categories, these places tend to be correlated pretty strongly.
I think we should look positively on new technologies, and how we can build a better future, and worry/fear about change itself less than we do. I think Glass has a lot to offer, especially now that developers have their units and can explore the form factor to its limits, and it will be a success in the greater market upon launch."