Will Google Glass actually harm our perception of the world rather than aid it?

Leonardo Google

I am as keen on tech gadgets as the next person but I can’t help but wonder if the advent of virtual technology actually takes something away from our perception of the world, rather than adding to it.

There is a marked difference between ‘looking’ and ”seeing.  As a person who started my professional career as an art teacher I know that the secret to visual creativity is to train the mind to actually take in and process the visual stimuli that bombard us every day.

To do this one needs to focus on the subject at hand and exclude the other ‘visual gunk’ that surrounds it.  Only then can the creative juices start flowing and creative interpretation follow.  Let’s face it, the world needs creative people who can dream.

So in our brave new world where a pair of high tech ‘specs’ provides us you a constant stream of third party data, are we muddying the creative process rather than aiding it.  Imagine how little Leonardo would have achieved if he had been constantly bombarded with virtual reality data? Very little I suspect.

Put bluntly, is too much virtual data for tech-delivered sources scrambling our cranial database?

Robert E. Franken in his book Human Motivation suggests that to be creative, one needs to be able to “view things in new ways or from a different perspective”.  But I don’t believe he had in mind a quite literal ‘different perspective’ delivered through technology. The ‘uniqueness of alternatives’ cannot be considered and interpreted creatively if they are constantly being prompted by pre-programmed data.

According to Hungarian psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, creative individuals alternate between imagination and fantasy at one end, and a rooted sense of reality at the other.

I would suggest that the problem with tech gadgets such as Google Glass is that they only allow an individual focus on the latter.

While I wouldn’t go as far as Brian Merchant in suggesting that “products like Glass may turn daily life into a neurotic consumerist hellscape”, I wonder if people have fully thought through how the purchase of a virtual technology device might effect them?

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About thedigitalconsultant

Roger Smith is an international, digital consultant and former British Council Director of Online Operations within the East Asia region. http://thedigitalconsultant.blogspot.com
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