On Friday, after another Google protest marched through the Mission, Business Insider tech reporter Kyle Russell became the latest victim of anti-Glass sentiment when, he claims, he wore his $1,500 face computer in "the wrong part of San Francisco."
The part of San Francisco Russell refers to is near the 16th Street/Mission BART station — a sketchy spot where most passersby would be wary of even checking the time on their smartphones. In a post about the incident, Russell retraced the events:
After more than an hour spent working on the story [about Friday's protest] in a coffee shop, I arranged my laptop, camera, and notes in my backpack. Mindlessly, I put on Google Glass instead of squeezing it in with the rest of my things.
(In retrospect, I can see how that might not have been the best idea.)
The aforementioned colleague and I were on our way to the 16th Street BART station — I'll note that I wasn't using any device at the time — when a person put their hand on my face and yelled, "Glass!"
In an instant the person was sprinting away, Google Glass in hand.
I ran after, through traffic, to the corner of the opposite block. The person pivoted, shifting their weight to put all of their momentum into an overhand swing. The Google Glass smashed into the ground, and they ran in another direction.
Russell says he picked up what was left of his broken Glass and kept chasing, but the suspect eventually got away. While waiting for SFPD officers to return so he could file a police report, Russell took to twitter to announce the assault:
Just had Glass torn off my face and smashed on the ground in the Mission— Kyle Russell (@kylebrussell) April 12, 2014
@jcenters I love the irony of people in San Francisco attacking someone on the streets because of outward appearances and thinking that's ok— Kyle Russell (@kylebrussell) April 12, 2014
The response that followed proved a predictable mix of support from fellow Russell's friends and fellow tech crowd, along with what he called "the trolls and anti-tech crowd." The story isn't new (see also), but unlike the Sarah Slocum incident Russell's alleged assault isn't about surveillance anxiety (which Slocum only stoked when she actually started recording), nor is it the sort of opportunistic snatch-and-grab that targets absentminded smartphone users. At this point, Google Glass, the corporate shuttle buses and, to an even larger extent, Google itself have all turned into an "antisocial fetish" — a symbol of everything from gentrification and rising rents to the eviction of third-grade teachers.
Days after the incident, Russell appeared to still be smarting, taking to Twitter to call out other people who have been critical of his Glass use:
Previously: Another Morning, Another Google Protest In The Mission
All Google Glass coverage on SFist