Glassed-out stare: the latest in new tech anxieties
Ian Bogost’s analysis of the “glassed out” vacant stare of Google Glass users surfing the web is particularly interesting in that it allows us to think more clearly about the now-familiar way people mark distance from their immediate surroundings by staring down into their smartphones. Bogost cites Olsen, one of the Google Glass designers who explains that they were designed to allow people to not dissociate from their surroundings when checking something online. That may not be such a great thing:
The very invisibility of connection with Glass may form part of the problem. After all, Olsson’s head-down smartphone pokers are clearly signaling their relationship to the physical world, even if the meaning of that signal amounts to, “I am withdrawing from it.” So tempting as the “glassed-out” metaphor might be, it’s the wrong one. “Wearers” are not like users, zoned out and distanced from worldly interactions through artificial chemical supplement. Rather, they are weirdly, undecidably suspended between presence and absence. The glassed-out early adopters of wearable computers signal neither; they signal nothing at all.
Of course, we’ve been complaining about new ways new technologies make us less aware of the here and now for a very long time.