Glassholes: Google recognizes its monstrous spawn

A behavior advisory issued to Google Glass wearers urges they not be creepy, solipsistic surveillance cyborgs

Published February 20, 2014 7:15PM (EST)

Google, in perhaps a tacit realization that it has spawned a small army of particularly insufferable cyborgs, has issued an etiquette manual for the first generation of Google Glass users (or "Glass Explorers" as they're called).

With a list of unsolicited "Do's" and "Dont's" posted on Google's Glass website, the tech giant highlights a number of central concerns around the subjectivities its wearable computing system is creating. High among them, the fear that "Glassholes" start living their lives as nonstop surveillance robots.

One "Do" and a corresponding "Don't" advise "explorers" to not use Glass to record others in their vicinity without permission:

Do: Ask for permission. Standing alone in the corner of a room staring at people while recording them through Glass is not going to win you any friends (see Don’ts #4). The Glass camera function is no different from a cell phone so behave as you would with your phone and ask permission before taking photos or videos of others.

... Dont: Be creepy or rude (aka, a “Glasshole”). Respect others and if they have questions about Glass don’t get snappy. Be polite and explain what Glass does and remember, a quick demo can go a long way. In places where cell phone cameras aren’t allowed, the same rules will apply to Glass. If you’re asked to turn your phone off, turn Glass off as well. Breaking the rules or being rude will not get businesses excited about Glass and will ruin it for other Explorers.

Other nuggets of Google's advice encourage Glass wearers to act as partially functioning social animals in their immediate environments. Google advises: "Glass was built for short bursts of information and interactions that allow you to quickly get back to doing the other things you love. If you find yourself staring off into the prism for long periods of time you’re probably looking pretty weird to the people around you."

The advisory post is a fascinating artifact -- an unintentional reflection from the tech leviathan on the pitfalls of wearable computing and the sort of troubling, "creepy" behavior it might enable and encourage.

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Glassholes Google Google Glass Privacy Surveillance Wearable Computing