Glasshole? What it's like to wear Google Glass in New York

Find out what the ultimate Google Glass faux pas is, as Public Eye looks at—but does not record, honest—a Glass wearer.

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Steven Rosenbaum

Google Glass wearer Steven Rosenbaum: "People will say, 'You’re not recording this, are you?' When you say no, you realize they don’t entirely believe you."

Google Glass wearer Steven Rosenbaum: "People will say, 'You’re not recording this, are you?' When you say no, you realize they don’t entirely believe you." Photo: Caroline Voagen Nelson


You don’t see too many Google Glasses around these parts. Well, I had my first experience running into another person wearing them the other day.

How’d that go? It was weird, because it was Bloomberg.

Did you exchange pleasantries? How does it work? Can you sense each other? He was onstage, and I was in the audience, so it wasn’t a level playing field.

Who’d you have to kill to get a pair? I run an Internet start-up in New York that’s very focused on Web video. I’ve believed for a long time that no one is thinking about the coming avalanche of uncurated content. When Google Glass came out, I reached out to my friends at YouTube. They said, “We’ll introduce you to the Glass guys.” And then I just begged.

Do people assume you’re recording them? The presumption is you’re recording video all the time. That’s not true, by the way. But there’s no red blinking light, so people will say, “You’re not recording this, are you?” When you say no, you realize they don’t entirely believe you.

There is backlash on the West Coast, referring to Glass users as, uh… C’mon, use the word.

Glassholes. Have you encountered much animosity? You have to be really careful that you don’t look at people in a way that would be harmless without them, but seems somehow creepy and stalkerish because you’re wearing a camera. And then the creepiest place so far is the men’s room. That is the ultimate Google Glass faux pas. The rule is that you take them off and hang them on your shirt, but after a while, when you’re wearing them all day and you’re busy, you run to the urinal and go, Oh shit, I just really upset some people, and somebody is going to punch me in the face.

So what do you see as the long-term implications of Glass? I think it’s going to be as meaningful in the market as the iPhone was. Or more. The iPhone, you could argue, was a net positive. Maybe too many people are glancing at their phones during dinner, but it didn’t have immediate, groundbreaking social implications. I think Glass is far more complicated, far more important and potentially far scarier at the same time. Like, being a cyborg is cool, but what happens when you talk to somebody who is also wearing a pair? That is a different experience.

Next week: "You could put a choir down there and it would sound like Carnegie Hall." A subway busker reveals the best stop for acoustics, and more.

Last week: Brooklyn bartender believes he can fly, almost gets skewered


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