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.
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.