The Glass Edge: First 8 Weeks

I had meant to do more frequent updates on my experiences with #GoogleGlass, but my plans to download regularly pictures and videos from a vacation to southern Africa in August were compromised when the Chromebook I brought along failed to talk nicely to #GoogleGlass. In fact, the Chromebook and Glass were not on speaking terms at all. Admittedly, my Chromebook is one of the less expensive models but still I was befuddled by the Chrome operating system’s failure to recognize a cousin of sorts. Oh well…

Google definitely has established worldwide buzz for Glass. My favorite encounter was in Kasane, Botswana.Image When I landed at the little-more-than-an-airstrip, a German national approached me cautiously. “Is that Google….Glass?” but his expression said this is the last place in the world I expected to see one. In return for getting his selfie with Glass, I asked him my standard two questions. You can see his answers here.

I asked everyone who tried Glass the same two questions. I always got the same answers. But far from a scientific sample. (Apologies for the poor audio quality.)

My friend in Botswana:

My Israeli friend working in South Africa.

I liked using Glass best to take videos in places where it was otherwise awkward to take a video. Like at Sunday mass in Regina Mundi, the legendary Catholic church in Soweto. We attended the mass where the congregation sang all the prayers…in Zulu. It lasted two and a half hours, at least half of it in song. I don’t know any more details about the special group of women dressed in purple accompanying the Presentation of the Gifts, but they were truly beyond awesome. (The framing of this video leaves much to be desired I know. Some of it is me; some the limitations of #GoogleGlass.)

On my last day in South Africa, my friend Nate took my mom to Alexandra township near Johannesburg, once a hot spot and no-go area of Johannesburg. He’s working there to introduce mobile banking. Many South African blacks spend hours in line just to send money to relatives and pay bills. They can’t use regular banks because of the fee structure.

Here’s a video of us driving through Alexandra.

South Africa remains one of the most complicated countries in the world. But it’s important to see it clearly for what it is. From there we can proceed.

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4 responses to “The Glass Edge: First 8 Weeks

  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences with Glass and also little tidbits about your travels, Carmen. Even though they’re brief, I really got a taste of the people and places you’re visiting. The mass in Soweto was beautiful and joyful! I’m curious about your questions. Why those two?

    • Thanks for the comment and appreciation. The reason why I’m asking those questions is I think we need to rethink foreign policy and national security in a world where enemies are less the issue than just difficult problems. So asking those questions is part of my field research.

      • I find the questions fascinating, but I also think when asked abruptly that way, they put people on the defensive. I was imagining how I would have reacted had someone (whom I presumably did not know well) asked me a question like that on video, and I probably would have answered the same way as everyone else. So then I thought about what line of (quick) questioning might have led me to answering the question more thoughtfully and authentically.

        One idea I had was to use an old trick that several of my media colleagues have shared with me over the years: Lead by asking people what they had for breakfast. It’s safe, it’s easy, it warms up the interviewee and gets them more comfortable in front of the camera, and it can actually be quite interesting and revealing. It would establish your whole interview as quirky, and it might help people feel comfortable about answering the followup questions about enemies.

        Looking forward to watching your collection of interviews evolve over time!

      • Thanks for the advice. I did ask the questions first before I started filming them (except I think for the German fellow.)

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