Becoming an Explorer: Google Glass for Learning

I must have spent literally hours glued to the pages of the Argos catalogue: i can still remember the feel of it’s thin, crinkly paper that would stick to your fingers as you turned the pages. The Playmobil section was towards the end, under ‘toys‘, but before you got to the girls stuff, all pink and glittery. Ah, the days before gender stereotypes played on my mind.

Google Glass Explorer

The Playmobil Space Station sat on the surface of a barren planet, it’s brown rocks and craters calling out for exploration. The blue glass dome shone under an alien sun and in the sky a shuttle drew closer (a shuttle that was already in my possession, doing diligent duty in the garden). The day before Christmas was always a time of expectation and imagination, excitement and trepidation. There was no doubt in my mind that the Space Station would advance my dreams of exploration to spaces uncharted and new.

Today, exploration of a different kind, but the sense of anticipation is keen: i’m heading to London to pick up my Google Glass, to become an Explorer.

The magnetism of toys is clear, and Glass is no exception: Google’s pioneering adventure into wearable technology is still in its infancy and firmly in beta, but it’s a combination of mature technology and a hungry market. We love to explore and share, core Social Age traits.

They’ve choreographed the experience well: i signed up for an appointment and at 2pm will be greeted by my Glasses Guide at the dedicated exploration centre, to receive a tour and, i guess, choose my Glass options. Suddenly my non exploratory prescription glasses seem pedestrian and my main fear is that i simply won’t be able to focus on a tiny screen above my eye. Time will tell!

The purpose of Glass? Far from clear: it’s currently a testbed, a platform to gather data on what users want, on how they want to do it, on what our society will tolerate and on whether the technology can deliver.

In the UK we have already seen the earliest flurry of outraged discussion on whether Glass should be banned from swimming pools, theatre, driving or music gigs. The thought of a camera potentially capturing images and video silently with no magic blinking red light too much for the luddites. Of course, should it gain a red light, nobody would wear the thing. I want to be an Explorer, not the Borg.

In the absence of clear social etiquette and protocol, i guess we all make it up. In any event, every phone in the world can capture video and share it effortlessly. Glass is hardly groundbreaking in this respect, but it does it more seamlessly and, maybe, the fact that it’s next to our eyes makes us think it’s closer to our souls.

Yesterday Charles asked me what i was going to do with it. A fair question, bearing in mind there is no killer app (although there is a killer ecosystem waiting for one). For me, i think it will be a tool for capture, narrative and sharing. I already capture images widely and share them, this will let me add overlays and doing it on demand. I may use it when drawing the illustrations for the blog, adding layers of audio context as i create the visual imagery. I’ll certainly use it for sharing.

Will i use it for email? Probably not. SMS? Maybe. Navigation? Almost certainly. As for the rest? I guess it will emerge. That’s the point of Exploration: the views are emergent.

The Social Age is about ‘sense making‘, within and alongside our communities. Technology connects us to these communities and facilitates this sense making activity.

My excitement is palpable, even thought the direction it may take me is unclear. I’m expecting this technology to facilitate me sharing in new and creative ways.

When i sat with Charles yesterday he demonstrated some of his new Social Technology: a curation space that allows you to bookmark, share, add context and built social reputation. Glass could seamlessly integrate into that ecosystem. Social authority, build on our curatorial skills, enhances formal authority and makes us more effective. For organisations, this is hugely significant, even for those that don’t realise it yet.

There’s a risk it will fail, end up sitting alongside my Jazz drive and GoPro: great technology that’s just too cumbersome to implement, to actually use. Do i really want to carry another charger around? Do i really want to pay extra for prescription lenses? Will it really integrate with Apple’s IOS?

If we don’t try to explore, we’ll never find out.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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17 Responses to Becoming an Explorer: Google Glass for Learning

  1. I had trouble “liking” this post – the only basis for my consternation being a vehement opposition to Google Glass. Call me “middle aged” if you must, yet I assure you my concern stems from much more than an out of touch social fuddy duddy. Social technology is a double edged sword – I fear technology stifles independent thought, trivializes/sensationalizes inappropriately, makes us lazy self centered “trend” junkies and replaces actual interaction with an increasingly isolated sense of reality. Social media is out of control – for every positive there’s a dozen negatives.Read this and tell me if I’m a crazy out of touch person (seriously, I’m extremely interested)…

    • julianstodd says:

      Hey, thanks for visiting and sharing those thoughts: i can understand your concerns. Technology can be used to stifle us, to control, but it can also be incredibly liberating. In my work with the Cherie Blaire Foundation for Women, we use social technology to connect women who are growing micro businesses in developing countries with expertise in developed ones. By helping them develop business success, they gain greater financial and political power: all facilitated by the technology.

      We see cyber bullying, but we also see digital mentoring. The amplification effects of Social mean that stories we want to hide, or images we are ashamed of can go viral, but on the flip side, social campaigns achieve great momentum and do great good by the same mechanisms.

      Social media doesn’t have to be about the ‘self’. It can focus on the group, especially as we move into eastern cultures. It may be that for every good side, there is a bad one, but i think the mix is pretty even. Really social just lets us amplify underlying social trends and habits.

      Good challenging thoughts though, thank you 🙂

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