Thursday, September 13, 2012

GoogleGlasses and the Telephone: Getting technologies off the ground

Came across this video demoing GoogleGlasses today. I would like to submit that GoogleGlasses looks good because of its editing. The fact it's promoted as a short film is mildly silly as no one, yet, really wants to watch hours of straight pov footage.Google in this particular clip is not showing off the glasses as much as highlights. Unfortunately, as far as I know, when you get the glasses, you're not getting the editor as well, unless you can afford one or take the time to do it yourself.
 In his book The Audible Past Jonathan Sterne documents how Bell and Watson traveled around the country to promote the use of the telephone, demonstrating it in various cities. Since being able to comprehend, let alone hear all the words being spoken by the other person on the opposite end was pretty, at best, terrible, common words, phrases and songs were used  to help encourage legibility. ""...experimentation with sound reproduction largely had the machines reproducing easily remembered and imitated language." (p. 254) Sterne argues that these particular common words/phrases, etc. were used in order to help the technology; "...the desire for the machine to work" (p. 251). That is, if the message was completely unintelligible who would be interested? Bell and Watson had to prove that the telephone could indeed "speak". If people got even parts of the message that at least proved the possibility of communication in some capacity with hope for the future.
Thus, the telephone in its early, development stages, received assistance from its developers in order to generate enough interest in it so that "...the machine and the process [were] as desirable to audiences as possible." (p. 251)
I think there's a parallel here with GoogleGlasses. The vast majority of viewers are not yet at the place where there is desire to watch someone else watching the view in an unedited fashion. Getting stuck in traffic, using the bathroom falling asleep at your desk, eating a meal-there are things that are not important enough (right term?) to be viewed.
If you read the blurb about the video on its page as well as observing the editing style (sped up sequences, jumps in time, etc.) which really closely mirrors that of reality tv (think TLC-type shows). The language in the blurb "never before seen footage", "capture", "fit seamlessly" etc. These phrases pull from common language of the extra footage of DVDs, behind the scenes desires and one of the biggest consumerist desires-no hassle. The blurb, at least, speaks our language. The editing of the event takes it one step further using editing styles and practices that remind one of another type of show but as we are reminded by the lipstick on the glass, this is a special camera.
What's edited also communicates glamour, success, smiling faces and, if permissible, happiness. Nothing breaks, nothing is hurt, nothing is wrong in this particular film. As interesting and potentially important as the ability to shoot video is, editing how or what is seen, is just as important. The choice of language for the messages conveyed through early telephone demonstrations could have greatly decreased the effectiveness of the telephone if no one could understand what was being said. Similarly if the recording from the glasses went on for a Warholian 15 hours no one would watch because that footage would be truly incomprehensible; any message would be lost.
The editing in this piece seeks to help the use of GoogleGlasses make sense by condensing what was probably hours of footage into a nice couple minute long exciting package. Lacking the hours of footage would diminish the amount of highlights to be drawn from them but including everything swamps the message.
Since video can not be self-edited, as speech can, the editing process assists, or attempts to assist our embrace of GoogleGlasses as a viable technology. This bit of filming is designed to make us want the Glasses to "work", succeed and become part of our daily life.

No comments: