Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thinking out loud: a guest lecture commentary

We were lucky yesterday to have guest lecturer Jonathan Laba discuss the many exciting new projects in social media that are coming our way. He talked about location aware applications -- which ones are on the way up, and which ones won't last (hello Foursquare!). He discussed augmented reality, a mind boggling concept that is pretty cool once you get past the code speak. These were great topics, but it was the upcoming projects and products that really caught my attention. One in particular, was the new Google glasses click here for more info .

These glasses work like a visor, and are equipped with a mini camera embedded in the lens so you can film anywhere, anytime, anyplace. You are basically a 24 hour walking camera. I personally think the concept is cool, but the glasses themselves are hideous. It's akin to putting a jockstrap on your head! Google was smart by trying (with clear emphasis on the ‘trying’ part) to lift the image of the glasses, by placing them on models and celebrities:

See? On them it looks great (sort of). Angles and proper lighting, not to mention a pretty face can make anything look good, but lets be fair here. Models and celebrities won't be the ones wearing them: WE will. This is how they really look on ordinary people - check out Sergey Brin, founder of Google. Do you think the glasses look good on him?

Aesthetics aside, the bigger question for me was what effect this product would have on our roles as pr practitioners. When the question was posed to Jonathan, he, like most techie developers, only saw and focused on the big, bright future which was fine, but it made me wonder if he thinks or had thought about the potential negative consequences of the glasses. Believe me, my classmates did and brought up some pretty serious concerns, which was met with an almost detached, mostly confused reaction from Jonathan. It’s like he couldn’t quite believe that these concerns were concerns. We know that social media has already completely changed the way people connect with one another, and has changed the way pr practitioners do their job. This product in particular, really looks like it has the potential to have a more serious impact, both positively and negatively, on the social media landscape and people in general. I hate being a Debbie downer, but as communicators we have every right to explore and even ask uncomfortable questions regarding the impact of social media platforms; what will work for us, how the product may work against us, and what really is or isn’t necessary for us to perform our duties effectively. Google glasses definitely raised my concerned antenna simply for all the reason any new social media product would.

This was a great lecture overall. It’s always interesting to see what concepts and products are created in the social media world, but it’s infinitely more interesting to witness peoples reaction to them.


  1. I really enjoyed this post. You simplified the technology further. And you raised the point about concerns. Our class pointed out several concerns and if we're thinking about them, it's a sure bet that others are too.

  2. You mentioned being assimilated by The Borg in the last post. Then I see solid evidence of this happening with photos of Borg activity on human beings in this post!

    And that "detached, confused reaction" is what you get when machinery tries to take over your brain. Social media has many of us trying to rewire our brains, but I think you're right that understanding how much these technologies are accepted into our practices around PR is what's important.

  3. I have to disagree with your take on the guest speaker. I think Jonathan definitely acknowledged the potential issues with Google Goggles but he tempered it with the reality that we already live in a world where we are constantly under surveillance and almost everyone has access to photo and video tools. He also gave some great tips for PR practitioners including the importance of having access to a content management system so that PR professionals will immediately be able to update and respond to stakeholders online.

  4. Thanks to all for your comments, I really appreciate reading them. The post did exactly what I hoped, which was to initiate conversation and express opinions, and I'm glad to see there were opposing views to what was written!