If you walk around San Francisco — a city riven by tensions over the tech industry’s wealth and the transformations it’s producing — wearing a conspicuous symbol of the region’s biggest and richest tech company on your face, sooner or later, someone is going to give you a hard time about it. Maybe several somebodies. Maybe a very hard time.
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And what happens if you use that conspicuous symbol to film those somebodies as they give you a very hard time? This:
That video was filmed Friday night by Sarah Slocum, a Bay Area writer and social media marketing consultant. Slocum also happens to be part of the Google Glass Explorer program and was wearing the augmented-reality device at a bar called Molotov’s when the incident started.
Slocum says that several patrons of the bar — described on Yelp as a dive — raised a middle finger at her, directed aggressive comments her way and even threw things at her. It was only once the heckling started, she says, that she started filming. Soon after that, one of her antagonists snatched the Glass off her face and left the bar. Slocum pursued him, and he returned them, but in the meantime other members of his group allegedly stole her phone and wallet. (That’s one, truncated version of events; a longer one, with conflicting eyewitness accounts, can be read here.)
Clearly, Slocum’s not to blame for the actions of others — but should she have expected them? After all, just last week, Google felt obliged to issue a set of guidelines for how Glass owners ought to behave to avoid attracting the wrong sort of attention.
The company specifically counseled users not to “expect to be ignored” while wearing Glass, and advised them to ask others’ permission before recording video of them. Slocum clearly didn’t do that. Perhaps the footage she took will help police recover her belongings — and perhaps if she hadn’t taken it, the whole thing wouldn’t have escalated to the point it did.
I asked Google whether it recommends using Glass to document or deter crimes in progress in cases like Slocum’s. I’ll let you know what they say.