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Google Etiquette Guide Reminds Glass Users to Not Be 'Glassholes'


It's easy to fall prey to objectionable behavior while wearing Google Glass, so Mountain View drafted some handy pointers for users of its heads-up display.

In just a few months, it will have been two years since Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) co-founder Sergey Brin demonstrated Google Glass to an enraptured crowd at the I/O conference in San Francisco. Until then, folks had merely seen brief glimpses of the device in public, but a promotional video featuring the first-person perspective of the wearer had whetted the appetite of even the most technologically jaded individual.

However, in 2014, the Glass mystique has largely subsided. If you live in a major metropolitan area, there's a good chance you've seen one of the many Google Glass "explorers" who parted with $1,500 to field-test the device while it's in its developer phase. And if you haven't yet spotted one in the wild, there's no shortage of Glass reviews, personal accounts, or dissertations on the changes in behavior of those wearing Glass (and everyone in its field of vision) available online. (See: Living in a Post-Google Glass World: What the 'Explorer' Reviews Have Taught Us So Far.) What once commanded novelty and wonder now appears to be old hat, and that has left a greater potential for folks to be annoyed rather than fascinated at Google Glass and its wearer.

Sensing this waning tolerance, Google released a handy guide for proper Google Glass etiquette. Based on the experiences of existing users, the guide features a rundown of behaviors that should and shouldn't be in a wearer's repertoire. Although this list of Dos and DON'Ts might put a damper on users who are $1,500 lighter in the wallet and wish to take full advantage of the pricey heads-up display, Google is obviously concerned about the public's perception of Glass and wants the market to be open to its proliferation once Glass hits shelves with a considerable price drop.

At the top of the list, Google suggests new users get out there, explore all the features of Glass, and become active members of the explorer community. "Glass puts you more in control of your technology and frees you to look up and engage with the world around you rather than look down and be distracted from it," the guide reads. "Have a hangout with your friends, get walking directions to a fantastic new restaurant, or get an update on that delayed flight."

But there's also too much of a good thing, which Google refers to in its DON'Ts section as "Glassing-out." The company reminds users that Glass is intended for "short bursts of information and interactions that allow you to quickly get back to doing the other things you love." So if you find yourself immersed in an e-book displayed on a tiny prism above your right eye, it's time to set the device down for a while.

Citing polite cell phone behavior, Google also recommends that Glass users ask permission before mounting technology to one's face. "Standing alone in the corner of a room staring at people while recording them through Glass is not going to win you any friends," Google advises. "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."

However, the entire list of pointers appears to all be leading up to Google's most important rule: Don't be a Glasshole.

Wearers are dissuaded from being rude to strangers casually inquiring about the device (the company also warns that users shouldn't expect to be invisible while wearing Glass) and to follow the same rules that smartphone users must abide by in public and private environments. "Breaking the rules or being rude will not get businesses excited about Glass and will ruin it for other Explorers," says Google. A smart suggestion, given the number of different restaurants, clubs, and casinos which have instituted a "No Google Glass" policy on the premises.

So while we might be living in a world where folks could wear a Web-connected screen to their face like a non-cyborgian Terminator or RoboCop and no one bats an eye, there still needs to be decorum if we want everyone to be comfortable around this technology and beyond.

How else are we going to get our Google Contact Lenses?

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