Google tells Glass Explorers how not to be Glassholes

February 18, 2014
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As it starts to add more people to the Explorer program, Google put out an etiquette guide for Glass users so they don’t turn into Glassholes.

The etiquette guide is a list of do’s and don’ts that not only help to address some of the social issues involved with Google Glass, but also explain how Google wants us to use the wearable. While the guide is is on the Glass Explorer website, it actually comes from suggestions made by the Explorer community, and not some faceless higher-ups in the company.

Google views Glass as a tool that puts you more in control of our technology, freeing you up to interact with the world without staring at 4- to 6-inch screens all the time. Almost all of the rules, or suggestions, are best viewed through this lens, which is why Google puts it at the top of the list.

Furthering the idea that Glass is there to make your life better, so you can interact more with people and the world around you, Google suggests that you use voice commands to interact with Glass. Glass is unique in that you don’t need a free hand to use it, so it only makes sense that Google wants you to take full advantage of the voice commands. With voice commands, for example, you can take unique photos or videos from a first-person perspective that are next to impossible with devices that require hands.

Google Glass with earbudYou shouldn’t use Glass too often, however, even if you mostly use voice commands. Google warns against staring at the prism on Glass for too long, saying it’s best used for quick interactions like walking directions to a new restaurant. “If you find yourself staring off into the prism for long periods of time,” the etiquette guidelines warn, “you’re probably looking pretty weird to the people around you.”

The guidelines spend a lot of time talking about using Glass when others are around. The most obvious “do” regarding others is to ask for permission when recording or taking photos of people. A good rule of thumb, Google suggests, is to think of Glass like a smartphone camera. When it’s weird or invasive to take out a smartphone to record something, it’s also weird or invasive to record using Glass.

That rule leads right in the final “don’t” on the list, which is don’t a creepy, weird, or generally act like a Glasshole. This includes not snapping at people who ask questions about Glass, and giving hem calm explanations and answers instead. It also means turning off or putting away Glass when you’re asked to turn off or put away your phone, in a movie theater, for example.

The list of rules and suggestions from the Explorer community also include rules such as be an active member of the Explorer community, don’t wear Glass when engaged in high-impact sports, use the screen lock, and don’t expect others will ignore it.

It’s a bit depressing that we need rules more or less saying “don’t be a Glasshole,” but they’re also important to have. This proves that the community is thinking about the social issues that Glass introduces. As more and more people get their hands on Glass, and it comes closer to commercial release, we’ll have to engage in many more conversations about when the wearable is and isn’t acceptable.

Do you think these guidelines are a good first step in those conversations? Are there any rules or suggestions you might add?

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