1. Why Google Glass Will Never Be Mainstream

    OK, I lied. The headline was just to grab your attention. The current version of Glass will never become mainstream. Here’s why:

    About a month ago, I went to dinner with a friend in San Francisco who happened to be a Glass Explorer. He came into the restaurant, sat down at the table, conversation ensued and (to my surprise) he never took off his Glass. It wasn’t a date so there was no obligatory reason why he should take them off and thus, made the decision to turn this experience into an experiment.

    Whilst conversing, he’d frequently refer to a photo he took at X place or be reminded of this coffee shop/bar at X district and then proceed to look up the photo or the name of the place to “show” me. Except he could never find the photo and I was completely underwhelmed when he’d finally “find” the name of a place. We left dinner, said I’d see him at Glazed (the first wearable technology conference), hopped in a cab and shuddered at the sheer repulsion I suddenly felt towards technology.

    Thereafter, I carried this repulsion with me each time I went to dinner; I would hide my phone so far away from the table that I would have a hard time finding it when dinner was over. I had lost all desire to check my phone for updates and couldn’t help but look around at everyone sitting at other tables. I’d glisten at their interactions: their smiles, their hand gestures, the intensity of energy felt when eyes locked, the awkward silences and so on. I became infatuated with observing human interactions.

    I began to relate this love back to the repulsion and… then it all made sense.

    When we meet with a person or a group of people, we are experiencing communication in the most innate, true and honest form. Technology has fragmented human communication and the only place where it isn’t is experienced in-person. We can’t get this sort of interaction through a phone call, text, snapchat (these products have been striving to be more ‘humanized” by implementing features like read receipts) but we weight the interactions on these platforms differently (i.e. phone call != text != email != a snapchat) and then make assumptions based off of the weight we’ve arbitrarily given to these interactions. Technologies like Skype and FaceTime have tried to bring us closer to this face-to-face interaction but anyone would attest to the fact that nothing beats looking into someone’s eyes and reading their body language, their facial movements, their energy, their happiness, their sadness, their innocence, their deceit.

    Google Glass blocks this interaction. When you sit across the table with someone with Glass, you aren’t captivated by their eyes but are staring into a piece of technology that only the user can see into.

    For this reason, I believe Google Glass (or any of it’s competitors) will not become mainstream until you cannot see the technology or when it becomes “invisible” or seamless. Will this technology take the form of contacts, a chip in our brains or an invisible cloak? Only time will tell but I will make a safe bet that we won’t see an entire restaurant full of people in Montana wearing Glass anytime soon.

    P.S. My Glass arrived yesterday and I plan to use it de-fragment human communication via technology because as we stretch into the future, technology is going to become even more omnipresent and we need to figure out ways to not get lost in all of it and proliferate the human connection.

  2. 01:57 18th Sep 2013

    Notes: 2

    Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.
    — Mary Schmich
  3. image: Download

    San Francisco.

    San Francisco.

  4. Read Receipts

    I can’t count how many discussions I have gotten in with people over the iMessage “read” text messaging feature. So much so, that I decided to put it in writing to stop debating and get others reading.

    When I ask people why they opt to not show when they “read” someone’s iMessage, their answer is comprised of:

    - Showing someone when they read my text message is an invasion of privacy

    - It’s creepy

    - If I read a text message and don’t respond, then the other person can/will get offended

    - Only crazy ex-girlfriends use this feature (my personal favorite excuse)

    I say that’s bullshit.

    We live in an age of technology that does not (yet) replicate how humans communicate on a face to face basis. “Read” text messaging is a step towards this ultimate direction. It’s transparency. It’s an acknowledgement that you read something. It’s saying, “my mind is dealing with this”. Does it mean that you have to immediately respond to it? NO. It means, I’ve read your message and I’ll respond to it, if and when, I please.

    Ask any person with the “read” feature turned on and see that they aren’t the ones bothered when someone doesn’t respond. We’re all human, we all forget, push it off until later or simply don’t want to. It’s always the people with “delivered” who get offended. So, they evade being transparent, reap the benefits of others who do have the “read” feature on and then get bothered when they don’t get a response.

    I firmly believe that as we advance technologically, the default setting on messaging will move to this “read” feature because it is more natural, more human. Facebook chat implemented this feature earlier this year, Snapchat was built with it and I bet that G-chat will implement it by mid-2014.

    It’s no longer about what technology can do for us, it’s about how we can improve our human experience using technology. “Read” text messaging brings this same concept to human communication at a distance.

  5. image: Download

    I miss having Instagram when I encounter artwork like this.

    I miss having Instagram when I encounter artwork like this.

  6. Winds of Change: From Oracles to Taksim

    “Are you glad to have escaped the escalating protests in Turkey?” questioned my mother’s PhD student as I arrived in the Athens airport on June 11th, 2013.

    “Err… yes” I responded slightly taken aback, “but I am also glad to have had the opportunity to be inside Taksim Square to see the protests up close and personal.”

    “Well, I feel responsible to inform you that the government in Greece is predicted to fall tomorrow” she quipped hastily while hurrying us along to catch the final train back into Athens that night.

    The winds of change have blown me around in the past month since graduating from college and immediately embarking on a long-awaited trip to Turkey and Greece with my mother. I anticipated much of this change—the kind you have to imagine while gazing at a few lonely columns rising up from the rubble heap that was once magnificent cities or sanctuaries such as Ephesus, the Acropolis, Epidaurus or Delphi. The kind you gaze upon in archaeological museums that present change as an inevitable march of technologies triumphing over each other from the Stone Age to the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

    What I didn’t anticipate was spending an entire Sunday amongst protestors in Taksim Square or that two days later, I’d be on a boat on the Bosphorus witnessing parts of it burn right before my eyes or that a labor strike in Athens would prevent me from getting around the city.

    How do we understand change—both personally and across the sweep of human history? That’s what this trip has set me thinking about. What causes change and what’s the relationship between the human individual and collective action? What role do our technologies play? What can we learn from yesterday to apply to today and tomorrow? Why do we love our gadgets (cell phones are as ubiquitous in Istanbul’s public transit as they are in New York’s) but also defend our own traditions against incursions from foreigners, from globalization? And on a more personal level, what change do I seek to produce in the world and what should I preserve against forces that would change it?

    I contemplate the Oracle of Delphi. In ancient times, people came at great lengths to hear her prophesize about their future. Today, many consult horoscopes but also look to Bloomberg terminals. Are we much different today or are we the same? One seeming difference today is that we both disseminate and gather information through digital social media. In Turkey, my Twitter-feed buzzed with news from Taksim, making it seem that the country was on the verge of a social revolution; on the streets, however, people went about their lives just as if Taksim were not burning. What’s the truth? Who controls information and for what purposes? Back to the Oracle. Did you know that she spoke in tongues so that those consulting her could not understand? Her utterances were always “interpreted” by the many priests around her. And what did those priests use to “interpret” her language? They utilized the social media of their age—scores of people across the Old World who kept their fingers on the pulse of events and fed that information back to the priests, who then knew how to translate (and frequently manipulate) that information into tangible prophetic messages. The long duration of Delphi is a testament to their efficacy but it, too, succumbed to invaders who rejected “pagan” worship for a new form of truth.

    People today use the word “relic” to insult someone. But during this trip and along my transitional path, I have come to appreciate relics more than ever before. I, like so many Americans, eschewed the past and prized the future. Now I’m more in balance and understand that ruins are here to teach us lessons; lessons that show us how any empire, no matter how great, can rise and fall. In hindsight, we can study their technology and understand their failures but the present moment doesn’t grant us such 20/20 understanding. Even if we interpret social media’s messages as giving us perfect vision, at best, they are no more certain than the Oracle’s utterances.

    imageTaksim Square on June 9, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey

    imageView from the Stadium of the Temple of Apollo at Dephi, Greece

  7. image: Download

    The world’s first library.

Celsius Library in Ephesus, Turkey constructed in the first century A.D.

    The world’s first library.

    Celsius Library in Ephesus, Turkey constructed in the first century A.D.

  8. Snippets from the concluding paragraph of my thesis.

    I sometimes wish I could go back into my mind before I read Feed. I was thirteen, had a Motorola Razor flip phone, texted with t-9, used AOL Instant messenger on my new, hefty Dell laptop and my biggest technological worry was which background I could code together for my MySpace page. I cared little about advancements in technology, merely saw them as natural progressions in the world, and never thought that they could cause a potential demise to human intelligence and understanding. But then I read Feed, not once or twice, but three times in the span of one month. No one in my class understood my conundrum; I could not picture a world where I was so controlled by a device, such as Anderson’s feed, that I could not function without it. I promised myself that I would never let a device control my mind the way the feed controlled Anderson’s characters. Following Violet’s example, I promised myself that I would never let them “catalog me.”

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  9. I don’t know when they first had feeds. Like maybe, fifty or a hundred years ago. Before that, they had to use their hands and their eyes. Computers were all outside the body. They carried them around outside of them, in their hands, like if you carried your lungs in a briefcase and opened it to breathe.
    — Feed by M.T. Anderson
  10. Blank Pages in a Moleskine

    I’d classify myself as a private person; I keep many of my thoughts to myself and when I feel the need to express them, I normally write them in my moleskine. More and more, however, I wish I would write down my thoughts on my blog (which I clearly never use) to participate in the sharing and comparing of all ideas.

    But each time I’d sit down to “blog” on a blank Tumblr post, I’d feel uninspired and reach for my moleskine.

    It wasn’t until I finished my former moleskine and had to purchase a new one that I felt that similar feeling of writer’s block, but this time for my moleskine. It’s crudeness made me long for my former journal, full of quirky travel stubs, memories and above all, it’s own personality that had been developed over four months.

    …and then it dawned on me: when you begin anything, it always begins as a crude, too blank, too new moleskine and the only way to change this feeling and make it into something of “your own” is through personal effort. I am not just referring to journals, as this is applicable to any entrepreneurial startup, project, idea, friendship, relationship and so on.

    Everything starts as a blank slate and then depending on how much effort, thought, time, etc. that you put into it; the slate absorbs your thoughts, your essence, your personality then morphs into it’s own form, with traces of you all over. 

    For example, think about any of your favorite startups and the founders behind the idea. The founders started their company as a blank slate and poured themselves into code, the aesthetics, the hires, etc. as an extension of themselves and their belief in the product. The most inspiring startups are (to me at least) are those which visually depict their founders.

    Thus, each time you start something new, don’t be scared of the emptiness, but view it as an opportunity to extend your mind onto something outside yourself. While my blog is mostly now blank, I have a new motivation to make it another extension of myself. 

    P.S. I wrote this first draft in my moleskine. It’s a start.