commentary If Google's marketing video for its in-the-works high-tech specs turned your stomach as much it did the stomachs of certain tech bloggers and editors who shall remain nameless, you'll no doubt appreciate the satirical -- and, we suspect, all too probable -- take that's embedded below.
Now, it's not as if these unnamed bloggers and editors fail to see the pros inherent in such spectacles. For one thing, the instantaneous photo-snapping function displayed in Google's official video (also embedded below) looks useful and appealing in more ways than one. On the cheery side, it would make for the sort of easy visual note-taking that would, perhaps, be welcome to designers, artists, and many others. On the definitely-not-cheery side, such a feature might conceivably give pause (or at least deliver justice) to out-of-control law-enforcement officials, criminals, and others, the misdeeds of whom have in the past been captured by cell phone cameras.
Certainly the Google goggles could offer us boons, perhaps many yet unimagined. What these editors and bloggers object to is the seemingly ever-more aggressive efforts on the part of tech giants and others to develop systems for the commercialization of absolutely every aspect of human existence, from sharing photos with grandma to writing a note to dad to serenading your sweetie at sunset. There's a bit of apprehension, too, about a certain imagined engineering mindset that privileges efficiency above all else, leaving serendipity, chance, happy accidents, meandering -- and the creative (and simply pleasurable) potential inherent in all that -- to vanish like so much outmoded technology.
The seeming desire to slap ads directly onto our eyeballs, minds, memories, hearts, souls -- onto the very essence and expression of who we are -- is betrayed by Google's ad-video itself, which strokes the strings of sentiment in what some might hold is such a cloying and stomach-inverting way. Of course, such a strategy is no stranger to advertising. Hal Riney, for one, famously (and some have said artfully) employed it in the service of Crocker Bank, hiring songwriter Paul Williams to pen a little ditty to attract the younger set to the financial institution. The result was "We've Only Just Begun." Riney took a similar approach to helping land Ronald Reagan in the White House for a second term.
Now, though, it all feels -- to these anonymous bloggers and editors, anyway -- so invasive and inescapable (we'd only just begun indeed). And consequently, it all feels so cynical. But at least we have culture-jammers like Jonathan McIntosh, the parody video's creator, to offer up a kind of antidote to the supposed advertising-at-all-costs mentality. And culture-jammers being the adbusting types they are, it's appealing to think of how Google's goggles might end up getting hacked.
Perhaps, though, our offended and unnamed editors and bloggers are just being old-fashioned, blinkered, and resistant to change. Perhaps they simply fail to acknowledge the other, brighter side of capitalism's coin. We offer up the parody video, followed by Google's original clip, so you can react and ruminate however you choose. And do feel free to comment.
(For another, hilarious, parody vid, see this post by CNET's Chris Matyszczyk.)