March 5, 2013

Google Glasses: Boon or Bane

Google Glasses for sale on ebay were priced at over $15,000. I find myself breathing a temporary sigh of relief.

google glasses

I love technology, I love progress, humanity has become greater and greater at an exponential rate throughout history. I will almost certainly never be one to protest the new development of high- and low- tech solutions, which is especially good as my job as a Marketing Technology Strategist is oriented around helping others achieve the most valuable outcomes of using technology and solutions. It’s a system that works. When I first saw the online ad for Google Glasses functionality, I was in awe and immediately wanted a pair.

Now some time for thought has passed, and I’m not so sure that this is a good idea.

Think about how the mind works, as we have discovered so far: the right brain is visual, artistic, and conceptual. It makes intuitive connections, and provides a lot of the brainwaves we believe lead to inspiration. On the other side we have the logical left brain: capable of connecting words to images, in charge of calculations and systems, memorization. These two halves work together through the corpus callosum, and it is through this balance that our thought and learning patterns emerge.

The human mind also works much like the muscles of the body, wherein the more it is challenged, the stronger and more flexible it becomes. More blood flows through, and grooves are etched into the wrinkly grey matter that connects synapses into recognition and intelligent thought. Stop using it as much, and the abilities diminish and reallocate. If you don’t believe me, try writing a 10-20 page paper on something a few years out of school. Without practice of structuring thoughts and backing them up with citations, it becomes harder to do. If you are currently in college, do a long division problem by hand.

Add onto these facts that both mentally and physically, humans adhere primarily to inertia outside of a vacuum. When in motion that will last for a while, but without force pushing us forward, the inherent friction of the world will slow us to a halt. This occurs in mental uses quite clearly, when the requirement to utilize the mind is not immediately necessary, we stop. We no longer memorize phone numbers, addresses, directions, or how to read analog clocks thanks to technology such as smart phones.

Add in a device that takes our visual input, presents it as right-brain data, then requires a shift to left-brain thinking to read words, and then puts any information that you would have used memory for directly in front of your eyes presenting zero reason to even try and recall names, dates, prices, streets, etc… We have created a situation where mental effort has been reduced to an extreme. People think attention spans are short now? Wait until every item in a store is trying to tell its price and values to the person you’re having coffee with, as they see a scrolling list of text messages and emails display in front of them.

In consulting, we see this fast tendency to mentally adapt to technological assistance first-hand. Introducing systems into the marketing practice of a company helps to streamline actions, and optimize outcomes. It can create automatic communications between busy departments, coordinate project work, find optimal audiences for messages, organize offers, and more. All of this without marketing technology would require a lot of labor- and time-intensive work for a diverse set of teams of employees. Making it more accessible and educating users creates the potential for better marketing. Removing some challenges, however, can slow down that mental inertia that keeps ideas for campaigns, solutions, and marketing work fresh in one’s mind, and communication styles and importance fresh.

The key is to create an environment where the need to keep using your brain for high-level thought is encouraged and necessary. Don’t automate everything. Put forth challenges separate from maintenance activities. Use the time saved by installing the helpful programs to have face-to-face sessions of thoughts for big picture improvement in the company’s marketing strategies. Technology makes basic challenges easier to overcome, and should be followed up by creating bigger goals.

That’s for marketing technologies within companies, at least. For prevalent creations like Google Glasses?…
I’m guessing we’ve got about $14,400.00 of breathing room until we need to have that figured out.