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Handheld Technology

The media saw Google Glass through rose-tinted spectacles

So farewell then

Google Glass

You were really quite a big deal

And then you weren’t

 

The demise (at least in its current form) of Google Glass seems to demand the schoolboy doggerel verse of pubescent Private Eye poet EJ Thribb. The spectacles are going back into the case, although the technology - or at least the thinking behind the technology - will no doubt re-emerge at some point and in some guise.

Google Glass has been somewhat of a triumph for PR over reality. The salient points have been generally overlooked in the rush to embrace the new, new thing that has emerged from the Google Lab bearing the internal codename Shiny New Things.

This is not to say that Google needed a distraction to avoid pesky interest in its travails over data privacy. In fact, the coverage of Glass was notable for the cheerleading among the press as journalists ganged up to be photographed wearing the rig and few made more than passing reference to the fact that the technology effectively created a new wave of surveillance.

Also passed over was the clunky (lack of) usability, the invitation to theft, the wearer appearing a prat and more. Instead, a complaisant media basked in A New Thing That Google Hath Given Us. (My colleague Ayesha Salim was an honourable exception.)

It’s far from the first time that hacks have preferred to worship rather than fulfil their role as critics. Apple receives fawning appreciation with only a few watchers willing to put their heads above the virtual parapet and say that iTunes offers a nasty user experience. And in 2001, when Transmeta, featuring contributions from the sainted Linus Torvalds, launched its Crusoe microprocessor, writers queued up to hymn this new approach to silicon development, having anticipated it like the Second Coming. It took some while before brave souls pointed out that the benchmark ratings made Crusoe a stranded wreck.   

In technology, it is generally accepted, pioneers are identified by the arrows in their backs. Google Glass was a bold attempt but it was given as close as you can get these days to a free ride by writers acting as cheerleaders and toastmasters. And that’s an indictment of the media today rather than Google itself.

 

Now read this: Google Glass: All talk, no action?

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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