On his way to the 16th BART train station after covering gentrification protests in San Francisco, reporter Kyle Russell (pictured) had his Google Glass torn off his face and smashed by a random woman. When she saw Russell and his friend approach, the Glass hater yelled "Glass!", tore the hi-tech spectacles off his face and ran. Following the chase, the woman got away, but didn't make it out with the $1500 wearable - she smashed it on the pavement and escaped. This is the second similar incident since Glass-donning reporter Sarah Slocum was attacked in a bar this February. Thankfully, Russell and his companion are unharmed.
The girl's actions are quite confusing and not atypical to a hate crime. It makes sense to discourage the use of Glass in establishments whose visitors are entitled to their privacy, but Russell was wearing Glass out on the street in broad daylight, and probably taking advantage of its video recording functionality to aid his story. Not that wearing the smart-glasses anywhere is something that should require excuses. It's hardly any different than carrying a smartphone, with the exception that the latter doesn't make its user look like a stereotypical nerd, and is considerably cheaper. Nabbing the $1500 pair of goggles off someone's face is easily explainable considering their value, but having them torn off and destroyed with no reason other than "because Google Glass!" is as short-sighted and absurd as any hate-crime. But a hate-crime is not the right assessment here.
"Anything associated with Google has come to represent gentrification in the city, from the buses that take young software engineers to their corporate campuses in Silicon Valley, to Google Glass."More likely than not, Russell was wearing Glass in the wrong place at the right time. A little before his incident, residents walked the streets in protest of a Google lawyer, Jack Halprin, who started evicting tennants from a rental building he bought. Earlier in April, protesters targeted the house of Digg founder and Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose. Lower income residents are losing their homes and otherwise suffering from growing gentrification to which the SF tech-sector's well salaried workers and billionaire executives are contributing – some of them knowingly, some of them unwillingly. Residents are radicalizing, fostering anger and disdain towards the wealthy "techies". The Glass on Russell's face had a symbolic presence that was particularly unwelcome at this time and place.
"Unfortunately, anything associated with Google has come to represent gentrification in the city, from the buses that take young software engineers to their corporate campuses in Silicon Valley to Google Glass. This is especially true in areas where gentrification and income inequality have become points of conflict in the community,” the young reporter acknowledged. Meanwhile, his Twitter feed, comprised of equal parts outspoken support, fair anti-gentrification arguments, typical Internet Hate Machine antics, and some incredibly questionable morals, reads like a condensed sample of San Francisco's newest social struggle.
Russell's Glass couldn't survive the streets of San Francisco. According to the reporter, the wearable doesn't respond to voice and touch, and is practically unusable. If anything, the incident should make Google look into ways to make the glasses more durable - a difficult effort, considering Glass has to be fashionable and sleek if it's to find any success as a mass-product.