The backlash against Glass is a result of foregrounding—when a new technology makes some preexisting aspect (or aspects) of society more visible and, in so doing, is mistaken for having caused the phenomenon in question rather than having brought it to increased attention. Social scientists have long been aware that this happens, and so have described it with many different names. I like to use “foregrounding,” however, because it emphasizes that while what we’re seeing may be more salient than it was before, the phenomenon has been there all along
Brace yourself for more Glassholes. Beginning last week, Google started to make available a limited supply of Google Glass to anyone with $1,500 to spare. To be certain, Glass still affords—or make possible—a whole range of problematic behaviors. There are concerns about distracted driving; about people (probably men) taking photographs of other people (probably women) without consent; about Glassholes serving as foot soldiers in Google’s data-gobbling army, expanding the corporation’s ongoing assault on what we used to call “privacy.”
These are real issues, but not new ones; rather, they are the newest manifestations of much larger, long-standing problems. While Glass may make those problems more visible than they were before, hating Glass (or even Glassholes) won’t make the problems go away.
The backlash against Glass is a result of foregrounding—when a new technology makes some preexisting aspect (or aspects) of society more visible and, in so doing, is…
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