By Jennifer Maerz
Over the weekend, the news made the rounds that a second San Franciscan has been attacked for wearing Google Glass. Journalist Kyle Russell wrote a piece for Business Insider called "I Was Assaulted for Wearing Google Glass in the Wrong Part of San Francisco." That "wrong part," by the way, was near the 16th and Mission BART station, where Russell says a stranger grabbed the Glass off his face, sprinted off, and then smashed the device to the ground. And although the headline seemed slightly silly to me, I appreciated his bigger view of the assault and the social stigma around Google Glass.
The piece was all over my Facebook feed over the weekend, posted both by friends who are frustrated with the city's growing tech industry helping rents to increase and those who are sick and tired of tech being blamed for everything. But Russell's story was a much tamer telling than Sarah Slocom's recent publicity grab that backfired into weeks of kicking-the-dead-horse reporting about her infamous night at Molotov's when she lost her Google Glass. Russell is a journalist who was covering Friday's housing protest against Jack Halprin, the Google lawyer charged by activists with evicting teachers from their homes, and his sane recounting of what happened to him in the Mission placed the attack in the larger spectrum of people continuing to target the tech industry for much of the city's problems.
You could say these two Google Glass attacks are isolated incidents, or that expensive devices get stolen and destroyed in many major metropolitan areas. Fair enough. But as each of these attacks gains national media attention, and both businesses and legislators react to their patrons and constituents with rules about Google Glass, I'm curious what long term conclusions people will make about the product and the company behind it. Earlier this year there were debates happening around the country from states that might restrict people from driving with Google Glass. And of course, the Slocom incident caused a half dozen bars in the city to ban the device. A radio discussion on KQED's "Forum" this morning exposed the heated opinions people have about Google Glass, both for and against it. I can't think of another new product in recent history that comes with so much excitement and baggage.
All this comes, of course, arrives on the heels of Google Glass's expansion of its "explorer" program for the product, which cracks open the door for purchase to more people tomorrow, April 15, for those who want to get on the list (and then, ideally keep it out of sight if they find themselves in "the wrong part of San Francisco" as well).
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