One of the best things Jeff Jarvis has written lately is 21 Arguments Against the Light Bulb which I picked up on Google+. Jarvis is in my “Thinkers” circle on Google+. That’s where I put folks who regularly publish pieces that, well, make me think.
He wrote his piece in response to Edward Champion’s 35 Arguments Against Google Glass, a compendium of dumb and not-so-dumb reasons why Glass is a “bad idea.” Despite his tendency to rant, Jarvis’ basic reasoning is sound. Many of the published arguments against Glass — including those by Champion — are specious and reflect technophobia based on ignorance and fear, not rational thought.
Jarvis is expert at comparing “opposition” to Glass to the actions of past nay-sayers about important inventions like cameras and (now) light bulbs. It makes for entertaining and thought provoking reading. He’s especially good at calling out Big Media reporters and their lack of technological sophistication.
Problem is, when it comes to Glass, Jarvis might also be throwing the bathwater out with the baby. Some of the issues raised by Glass do need to be discussed calmly and rationally. As I suggested in Why I Hope Google Glass Succeeds, even though I think Glass will be a commercial failure, I think it and other technological advances in human-computer interaction are positive developments in how we interact with the world and with each other.
To suggest there may not be some legitimate concerns about how this technology is used is technological hubris. At least in terms of Glass, we’re not just talking about tweaks to search algorithms that improve the targeting of advertisements online. We’re talking about how teenagers might interact with friends while driving a dark country road at high speed some summer night. (If you’ve ever raised teenagers you might understand the kinds of things parents worry about.)
Actions do have consequences. How we use computers and networks have — and will have — consequences. We need to discuss these issues calmly and reasonably before the crazies take over the arguments. That’s not “technopanic,” that’s just being an adult.
Copyright (c) 2013 by Dennis D. McDonald, Ph.D. Dennis is a Washington DC area consultant specializing in digital strategy, project management, and technology adoption. His clients have included the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the US Environmental Protection Agency, Jive Software, the National Library of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, Social Media Today and Oracle, and the World Bank Group. His experience includes government contract research, software and database product development, system integration and consolidation, and IT strategy consulting. Contact Dennis via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 703-402-7382.