Are Google worried about something? Has someone said something about Glass that touched a nerve?

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Unusual news from Google this afternoon as a post has emerged on Google Plus (yes, it is still going) debunking ten “myths” about Google Glass. You’d almost think they were worried about something.

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With Google Glass not yet in the hands of the public, perceptions of the device are still largely shaped by the media coverage – and this is clearly making Mountain View a little nervous.

The myths cover a wide range of things – one of the most amusing though is the apparent concerns that their users are just a bunch of nerds (heaven forbid!). Thankfully, according to Google “Glass Explorers”, as the beta testers are known are apparently all hip and fully functioning members of society:

Myth 3 – Glass Explorers are technology-worshipping geeks
Our Explorers come from all walks of life. They include parents, firefighters, zookeepers, brewmasters, film students, reporters, and doctors. The one thing they have in common is that they see the potential for people to use technology in a way that helps them engage more with the world around them, rather than distract them from it. In fact, many Explorers say because of Glass they use technology less, because they’re using it much more efficiently. We know what you’re thinking: “I’m not distracted by technology”. But the next time you’re on the subway, or, sitting on a bench, or in a coffee shop, just look at the people around you. You might be surprised at what you see.”

The bulk of the ‘debunking’ is clearly aimed at people worried about privacy concerns.

Myth 2: Glass is always on and recording everything
Just like your cell phone, the Glass screen is off by default. Video recording on Glass is set to last 10 seconds. People can record for longer, but Glass isn’t designed for or even capable of always-on recording (the battery won’t last longer than 45 minutes before it needs to be charged). So next time you’re tempted to ask an Explorer if he’s recording you, ask yourself if you’d be doing the same with your phone. Chances are your answers will be the same.”

Myth 5: Glass does facial recognition (and other dodgy things)
Nope. That’s not true. As we’ve said before, regardless of technological feasibility, we made the decision based on feedback not to release or even distribute facial recognition Glassware unless we could properly address the many issues raised by that kind of feature. And just because a weird application is created, doesn’t mean it’ll get distributed in our MyGlass store. We manually approve all the apps that appear there and have several measures in place (from developer policies and screenlocks to warning interstitials) to help protect people’s security on the device.”

Myth 10 – Glass marks the end of privacy
When cameras first hit the consumer market in the late 19th century, people declared an end to privacy. Cameras were banned in parks, at national monuments and on beaches. People feared the same when the first cell phone cameras came out. Today, there are more cameras than ever before. In ten years there will be even more cameras, with or without Glass. 150+ years of cameras and eight years of YouTube are a good indicator of the kinds of photos and videos people capture–from our favorite cat videos to dramatic, perspective-changing looks at environmental destruction, government crackdowns, and everyday human miracles.”

“The telescreen recieved and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever the wanted to. You had to live- did live, from habit that became instinct- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

Whoops, sorry, that last quote was from Nineteen Eighty-Four.

What’s clear is that Google have recognised that as soon as Glass hits the shelves, in addition to the inevitable consumer demand, there’s going to be a very real PR battle over just how intrusive Glass is, and whether people are willing to accept it in their lives – much more so than with mobile phones because for the first time in history, Glass will put a camera in your face.

Still, you have to admire Google’s pre-emptive handling of this. Given their thirst for data, they’re clearly not going to rest until Winston loves Big Brother.

James O’Malley