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The Googles

// Posted by on 02/24/2012 (12:35 AM)

Yesterday the New York Times published this article titled, “Behind the Google Glasses, Virtual Reality”. The article discusses google’s latest technology, thick rimmed sunglasses which will project information, entertainment, and advertisements onto the lenses. They may look something like… Read more

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Yesterday the New York Times published this article titled, “Behind the Google Glasses, Virtual Reality”. The article discusses google’s latest technology, thick rimmed sunglasses which will project information, entertainment, and advertisements onto the lenses. They may look something like this:

Putting aside the fact that people will look absolutely ridiculous as they bobble around the street in these because they’re paying attention to where they are walking, to me this invention is the perfect representation of Mark Mcluhan and Bernard Stiegler’s ideas. Essentially Mark Mcluhan theorized that new media functions as an extension of ourselves, that technology is literally an addition to the human body and its capabilities. And similarly, Stiegler proposed that human evolution has always been tied to technology. Through cognitive distribution, we rely on technology to increase our abilities and help us develop. An example of cognitive distribution would be how people no longer remember telephone numbers because their phones do it for them. And the more information you can distribute the more information you can consume. Unless you are the word memory champion or spend hours everyday memorizing friends’ phone numbers, it is safe to assume that your phone allows you to store a much larger quantity of numbers than your brain.

The google’s are also proposing a type of cognitive distribution which the article explicitly discusses. One example is that the glasses “could remind a wearer of when and how he met the vaguely familiar person standing in front of him at a party”. So now you don’t even need to remember acquaintances, the googles will do it for you.

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My initial opinion is that the concept of the googles is ridiculous. We already stare at our phones and text while we walk, frequently causing us to bump into things or ignore the people around us. Do we really require such instant gratification that we need information constantly available barely centimeters away from our eyes? But that thought gets me tangled up in another one of the theories of New Media which is that each time a new technology comes out, there are those who say we have gone to far. But then as time goes on, the invention becomes accepted and considered the norm. And then the next form of New Media is created and the cycle begins again.

So I think my opinion may be because conceptually, I am not progressing as quickly as the new media movement is. I just can’t help but wonder ( and I guess this is what other fellow nay-sayers have wondered as well), will there ever be a point where we actually have gone to far? That question just makes me think of this image from the Pixar film Wall-E where the humans are useless and they rely on technology for everything.

As a ponder the existence of a limit to technology, I have come to the conclusion that although I may never be receptive of all of the newest technology that comes out as soon as it comes out, I like technology which brings us up-to date information, which connects us to different networks of people, and which provides valuable aid in our lives (such as new medical technology for example. And I’m sure technology’s limit lies in a different place for a million different people but for me the limit is when technology takes away any of my basic functions as a human such as to love or to empathize.

Or another example is that there is a book called Born to Run where author Christopher McDougall talks about an African tribe which goes on weekly fifty mile runs. And everyone in the tribe goes including children and grandparents. The reason they can accomplish this is because our bodies are designed to run. They are utilizing a natural function of the human body, hence the title, “Born to Run”. So in a round about way, what I am saying is that if technology ever takes away my physical ability to run, (something my body is designed to do), like the fat people pictured above from Wall-E, then that is my limit. But maybe future generations will see it differently.


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