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Can punching a nerd be a good thing?

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Douglas Rushkoff is a nice guy and a bright philosopher, or media theorist as he puts it. His thinking is always a couple of years ahead of the curve. If you’re not familiar with his work, this solo performance for Dutch TV will bring you up to speed with his current thinking. It’s worth your time, I think.

Doug put this post up on his blog this week. He took issue at a joke by comedian Joel McHale. Quote:

“America still has amazing technological innovations. Google Glass has hit the markets. Now, just by walking down the street, we’ll know exactly who to punch in the face.”

[T]he notion, even expressed jokingly, of punching people in the face for wearing Google Glass — as if the device somehow signals a traitor to the cause of humanity — pushes things over the top. Yes, we can all imagine how people wearing an augmented reality device might be annoying: They can surf the Web while pretending to converse with us or, worse, record us when we don’t know it. No sooner had the very first prototypes been spotted last year than TechCrunch reported a new, purely apprehensive moniker for its wearers: Glassholes. But it’s as if the public is now being primed to go after early adopters — almost to a point where one might be reluctant to put on the device.

Doug, I love you man, I even agree with you most of the time. But not today. I think there’s a point you’re missing.

Google Glass is a device that has a mic, a camera, GPS, wireless connectivity, and a closed OS. That last point means that the wearer does not know what it does when, and why. It’s a surveillance device that one volunteers to have sitting on one’s face.

Wearing Google Glass is how one puts one’s contempt of one’s own privacy, and liberty, and that of everyone who enters one’s field of vision, on proud display. That includes me, as soon as the fucker enters my field of vision. So, it does indeed signal a traitor to the cause of humanity. Now I’m a gentle soul, and I can abstain from punching the fucker in the kisser, probably. Better smile while you’re on camera. But I will take it personally, and I certainly won’t talk to the fucker till he puts the damn thing away.

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