Parsing Google's Glass etiquette: What those do's and don'ts really mean

Google released an etiquette guide for early adopters in the Google Glass Explorer program Tuesday, and the fun and breezy script includes what may very well be Google’s first public acknowledgement that Glassholism is a thing. The term is referenced directly, and that’s very, very significant because Tuesday was sort of a slow news day in the consumer tech sector. So, yeah, we care.

Sure, the blog post could signal that Google is gravely concerned about the mainstream public’s acceptance of Glass, and wants Explorers to become better ambassadors of alien face tech. Or, just as likely, someone on Google’s blogging team had a fun idea, his or her boss greenlit that epiphany, and, well, here we are.

For those who’ve never used Glass, or just need a reliable translation of what the etiquette guide means, I’ve taken the time to parse some excerpts.

DO: Explore the world around you

Glass puts you more in control of your technology and frees you to look up and engage with the world around you rather than look down and be distracted from it. Have a hangout with your friends, get walking directions to a fantastic new restaurant, or get an update on that delayed flight.

Translation: Come on, guys. You threw down $1500 for this thing. So buck up, pull Glass from its incredibly nifty felt pouch—and, yes, we’re very proud of that pouch—and start using Glass in public. We want all of humanity to see more Glass, so that its very appearance doesn’t inspire knee-jerk repulsion. It’s sort of like skinny jeans on men. Now we just accept the new normal.

glass pouch

Use it or lose it, young Explorer.

DO: Take advantage of the Glass voice commands

Glass can free your hands up to do other things like golfing, cooking, or juggling flaming torches while balancing on a beach ball... This is great for looking up how many ounces in a cup while you cook, or taking a one-of-a-kind photo from your unique perspective.

Translation: You know we have, in fact, integrated voice recognition into Glass. You know that, right? Because we’re seeing so many of you continue to tap the touchpad, and that makes our voice engineers feel empty inside. Bottom line: It’s better to look like you’re talking to yourself than to be “that guy” who can’t stop touching his face.

DO: Ask for permission

Standing alone in the corner of a room staring at people while recording them through Glass is not going to win you any friends... The Glass camera function is no different from a cell phone so behave as you would with your phone and ask permission before taking photos or videos of others.

Translation: Seriously? Do we even have to spell this one out? Do you not have a wife, girlfriend, sister, mother or daughter who’s been creeped on by some camera-toting troll? “Asshole” is the operative linguistic component of the term “Glasshole.” Common sense and decency, guys. Come on.

DO: Use screen lock

Glass screen lock works like your smartphone’s screen lock: It passcode-protects your device to help prevent others from using it. If you ever lose your device or have it stolen by a budding online resale entrepreneur, you can turn off Glassware and perform a remote wipe (e.g. factory reset) of the device...

Translation: You didn’t follow our advice in the previous section, and now a co-worker has lifted Glass off your desk, and is rummaging through the creep-shots you took of the barista you’ve been crushing on. This all could have been avoided if you just showed disruptive technology a bit of freaking respect!

czech barista petra vesel mistr kvy r 2005 2007 preparing coffee image: Wikimedia Commons

DO: Be an active and vocal member of the Glass Explorer Community

The Explorer Program was created in order to have a place where our Explorers can give feedback, share content and communicate with the Glass team... They are constantly sharing their worlds with us and with each other, allowing us to hear and work on all the great feedback and stories our Explorers give us (and, wow, do they give us a lot!).

Translation: OK, it’s not that we’re not grateful. But you know those technical problems you’ve been having? Yeah, you don’t have to stew in a corner, silent with contempt. Please jump online, and find solutions posted by Explorer community members. You bought an experimental, alpha-release product, after all. It’s not like it just works like a jar of pickles or a slanket.

DON’T: Glass-out

Glass was built for short bursts of information and interactions that allow you to quickly get back to doing the other things you love. If you find yourself staring off into the prism for long periods of time you’re probably looking pretty weird to the people around you...

Translation: Come on, guys, look presentable. If you lose yourself in the prism for more than five seconds you immediately become the above-ground equivalent of a 15-year-old boy bivouacked in his mother’s basement playing Diablo III. Plus, you know, eyestrain. Consider.

Google Glass

Not a good look.

DON’T: Rock Glass while doing high-impact sports

Glass is a piece of technology, so use common sense. Water skiing, bull riding or cage fighting with Glass are probably not good ideas.

Not that any of our Explorers are actually cool enough for cage fighting. OK, well maybe jiu jitsu. But use common sense. You wouldn’t perch a $1500 antique glass goblet on your head, and run off for a game of flag football, now would you?

DON’T: Wear it and expect to be ignored

Let’s face it, you’re gonna get some questions. Be patient and explain that Glass has a lot of the same features as a mobile phone... If you’re worried about someone interrupting that romantic dinner at a nice restaurant with a question about Glass, just take it off and put it around the back of your neck or in your bag.

First, do you not even watch the evening news? Glass has gained a certain degree of notoriety, and now everyone wants to be the wise-ass who interrogates the Glasshole in public. Second, if you ever wear Glass during a romantic dinner in a nice restaurant, we will personally come to your house, retrieve our technology, and throw a $1500 refund in your clueless face. What kind of monster are you?  

DON’T: Be creepy or rude (aka, a ‘Glasshole’)

Respect others and if they have questions about Glass don’t get snappy. Be polite and explain what Glass does and remember, a quick demo can go a long way. In places where cell phone cameras aren’t allowed, the same rules will apply to Glass. If you’re asked to turn your phone off, turn Glass off as well. Breaking the rules or being rude will not get businesses excited about Glass and will ruin it for other Explorers.

Translation: Everything we say above. But there’s more: Don’t “pop” your collars. Don’t have loud public conversations about app development. Don’t order anything made primarily from quinoa. Don’t brag that your phone just got updated to Kit Kat. Don’t make a big deal about the tasteful accents on your $300 plaid flannel shirt from Barneys. Learn some basic niceties, guys. Glass is probably the least of your social worries.

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