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Friday, 16 March 2012

Lost in a screen

‘Living in the material world’ is sometimes seen as a bad thing, but at least it’s three dimensional. When I walk the streets of London (not my night-job) I’m forever swerving from side to side trying to avoid intense men and women staring at smart-phones and iPads, lost in a screen.

Once upon a time I’d make a conscious effort to avoid a man or woman talking loudly in the street to an invisible companion. Now I’m surrounded by them. There’s no escape. It’s me that’s become odd: Nobby-no-mates - sans earpiece and cell-phone – a sad little man with day dreams for company. Sometimes nothing. Dead space in the head. Wonderful.

One day they’ll come looking for me. Soon it’ll be the silent pedestrian that people steer clear of. Why are they silent? No friends? What’s wrong with them? We’ll be rounded up like stray dogs by well meaning social workers and forcibly taught the wonders of mobile technology.

Google have gone a stage further with their planned launch of Google eyeglasses. When I was young, children with glasses were called ‘goggle-eyes’. A term of abuse. Presumably Google-eyes’ will carry more chic.

These glasses will project entertainment and data straight to the eye and will appeal to, amongst others, Gamers who can conquer whole universes as they walk. It will be a weird balletic dance as both they and I attempt to dodge and swerve in random synch.

Google-glasses will stream information about any given building or object you are interested in; they will have Sat Nav. They will also have the potential for facial recognition. Yes, I know we are quite capable of doing that by ourselves – if we know someone to begin with. This is the augmented kind – streaming the face to a database that will then stream back everything that is known about that person. Bit like Facebook in your face. I imagine you could have premium services for the congenital nosey – or prospective employers.

Bump into someone into a pub and the glasses will be able to tell you the guy is a psychopath - before he lands you one in the stomach. Meeting someone for the very first time and the glasses will be able to tell you how many friends you share in common.

Or you could both just take them off and let the glasses commune in peace. Have a pint.

13 comments:

DRC said...

Google-glasses? That's a creepy thought, to have someone look at you and instantly know about you. Good-bye privacy and the art of being that mysterious person you see on the way to work everyday...

Shirley Wells said...

I fear I shall be laughing about 'Google-eyes' for the rest of the day. Love it!

I do sometimes despair of myself when I've had a day staring at a computer screen, followed by an evening either reading on my iPad screen or watching the TV screen. I can't take screens outside with me though. As you say, daydreams are the thing - or an empty head.

Mike Keyton said...

DRC. Google-glasses? That's a creepy thought, to have someone look at you and instantly know about you. Good-bye privacy - Borg-creep

Mike Keyton said...

Shirley, what frightens/intrigues me is the addictive nature of the technology. In the evening when there is time to read just before bed I'm so often tempted to check a blog/a facebook posting or tweet. When I catch myself I force myself to switch off - but too many times I don't : (

Maria Zannini said...

When I have a (working) computer, I could be on there 8-10 hours a day, particularly when I have deadlines. But I try to avoid technology when I've finished my work for the day. Chickens and dogs bring me back down to the real world.

Misha Gericke said...

Hahahahaha that world sounds just a tad scary. Maybe because I'm a closet Luddite. :-P

Mike Keyton said...

Maria, that's what I lack. Chickens and dogs : (

Misha - get out of my damned closet! : )

Claudia Del Balso said...

This is an awesome blogpost, Mike. I feel your pain. I, too, have run into rude and inconsiderate people on the streets who are too busy to pay attention where they're going. Although these gadgets are fun, being obsessed with them is just sick. I can write a book on the pros and cons of these technological advances that in reality, are just creating a retrograde society.

Mike Keyton said...

Thanks, Claudia - though to be honest, more bemusment than pain - except when I'm almost knocked over : ) On a more serious note Moses wouldn't know what hit him. He only had Golden Calves to worry about

Jay Paoloni said...

Great post, Mike!
Unfortunately, same goes on in New York, Montreal, L.A., Rome, Tokio...
There's no more eye contact between people, no more random conversations like "Is the bus coming?". No need to ask, you can find out, it's in your iPhone.
I'm one stray dog too. No online friends, only thoughts and reveries; and real people, shame on me. And - freak out! - I still read normal books! Made of paper, that is.
You're right, probably the glasses will have more to talk about than the two persons.
Great thought! Thanks for sharing!

Mike Keyton said...

Thanks, Jay. Ref eye contact, I've never forgotten the year I spent in New York and my subway experience - never make eye contact for fear of a crazy. This was pre smartphones but the principle remained the same. Read a book/paper/someone else's paper/the advertising over someone's head making sure your gaze glided down obliquely skirting the face of anyone beneath it. AND YET, everyone was totally aware of everyone else in that carriage. Quite mystical really

authorinprogress said...

frightening post, Mike--with all of our instant messaging we are getting further and further away from the world that surrounds us...more and more isolated from nature and one another...I, like Jay, enjoy having a book made of paper in my hands, not reading on my iphone...

Mike Keyton said...

You're right, Nikki. Nothing like cold rain on the cheek