The Communicated Culture of Google Glass

Google Glass is one of the most hyped up products that has yet to hit the marketplace. By providing people with an accessible form of augmented reality, Google is truly pushing society forward into the techy future many have been fantasizing about for decades. Although a number of interdisciplinary theories are relevant to Google Glass, is especially important to note the object’s communication and culture component, as well as how Google Glass fits into society as a medium. Additionally, we should note how interfaces affect the functions of both of the previously mentioned components in order to create the sense of augmented reality.

Communication and Culture –

On the communication and culture front, Google Glass exemplifies how powerful Google the company is in its entirety. People are drawn to Google Glass not only because of the object, but because it is associated with Google. Carey said, “the archetypal case under a ritual view is the sacred ceremony that draws persons together in fellowship and commonality.” This sense of commonality is visible in the promotional materials Google released to hype up Glass. The object itself is not portrayed as much as the experience of using it.

Google Glass aims to not only promote the use of an object, but inherently promotes institutionalizing Google by permeating direct human interaction. Again, to quote Carey, “It sees the original or highest manifestation of communication not in the transmission of intelligent information but in the construction and maintenance of an ordered, meaningful cultural world that can serve as a control and container for human action.” Google Glass allows people to communicate with one another through the use of an object, and in doing so categorizes each human interaction by making one hyper-aware of things that could be communicated. In facilitating this kind of interaction, Google Glass allows people to notice the digital aspect of their cultural world more than they may have otherwise.

 The Medium is the Message –

Going off of the notion that Google Glass itself facilitates a mediated sense of interpretation and communication, McLuhan’s assertion of the medium being the message continues to hold up in modern times. Like the many other forms of media that precede it, Google Glass has a set of inherent characteristics that would shape the user’s sense of reality and communication for better or worse. 

The most noticeable characteristic would be the fact that although the object allows you to share your view of the world with others, it also forces you to personally categorize every human action into a specific function of the glasses. So while it may be easy to send a visual snapshot of what you see to your friend, you still can’t fully share the experience of seeing what you see and must somehow transfer your communication into the square camera box of the Google Glasses. Additionally, the glasses themselves are a kind of metamedium that reinforces existing media functions and their messages. People on the other end of the line of a Google Glass interaction seem to still be dependent on some existing form of media like a television, computer or camera.

Interfaces – 

All in all, Google Glass seems to reinforce the importance of screens as an interface between humans and technology. The surface level interface of Google Glass is the entirety of the hype about the object because it puts a new shape onto something that is already familiar. That being said, as mentioned in the media being the message of the glasses, the user would be restricted to Google’s interpretation and style of interface interaction, so it will be interesting to see how users will be able to craft their own interpretations of how to use the object. Additionally, as mentioned in relating the culture of Google to Google Glass, the interface will reinforce a feeling of the Google culture because it will be easy to see who is using it and who isn’t since glasses like this do not generally exist. In general, the apps that Google Glass provides to people are not that different from things that already exist on smartphones, so it will really be the culture of the interface that makes Google Glass the phenomenon that it strives to be.