SXSW -- the place to be for the latest innovations in tech, exclusive concerts & testing your sleep-depravation harm levels. I love it.
It's also the place where I have seen the most Explorers concentrated in one area before Google Glass comes out for the general public to get. I was glad to no longer be the "only one" on the street being stared at in a funny way.
But there was one bad thing that happened during SXSW directly related to Glass. It wasn't the awesome Glass Happy Hour at the beautiful Hotel San Jose or the panel called "Glassholes" (which I sadly missed). It was a journalistically-questionable article/video from Yahoo! Tech that put Glass under a creepy, undesirable and awkward light.
And worse yet: I'm in it!
I'm even in the video thumbnail above the article's title, which read "Why Google Glass Will Never Be OK".
Let's go back to the beginning of all this.
I was walking around the Austin Convention Center about to head to lunch, when I got approached by a lady with a microphone, followed by a couple of camera guys. She asked me if I would be OK being interviewed on camera for Yahoo! News about Glass. Already used to people stopping me on the street to ask me questions about Glass, I said yes.
The lady in question is Yahoo!/ABC reporter Becky Worley.
She asked me some general questions about Glass, such as: "what do you like about it?"; "what do you use it for the most?"... among other questions. She also asked the friend I was about to have lunch with if he thought people would look at him weird when having lunch with someone wearing Glass (which is needless to say, a rather lame question).
Overall, I thought the interview was pretty typical and harmless, so I went to have lunch and carry on with my day of talks at the convention center.
The following day, a friend sent me a messages saying "I saw you on Yahoo! News". Happy as I was to see myself featured on a big name site like Yahoo!, I shared the link on every social network possible before seeing it, and then, when I sat down to have some coffee, I opened the link and watched the video.
I could describe what I felt when I saw it with quite a few not-exactly-positive adjectives... but I'll let you watch the video for yourself here:
Where to begin with this "gem" of journalistic labour...
First of all, right from the get-go, the piece is a clear attempt to bash on Glass. This should not come as a surprise from one of Google's major competitors (although I thought they'd be better than that). But even from the beginning, Becky Worley's tone of voice is clearly accusing and ironic.
But then, the best worst part of the video comes when the testimonials start appearing. Let's just say that it was "lovely" to see my face appear on screen being pared with the word "Creepy". Thanks, Becky.
As I said earlier, I was asked all sorts of basic questions about Glass. One of those questions was "What is the worse (or most uncomfortable) thing that has happened while wearing Glass"? (again, fair question. Why not?)
The only problem? It was this answer, and other answers along the same line, the ones that got featured in the article and the video! It was carefully edited to only present the very worst possible side of Glass. This is a problem because the intent of the interview was not clear (from the questions being asked) and ultimately deceptive, given the end result.
I feel I was essentially lied to, and I'm fairly certain everybody else who got interviewed was too.
In fact, I know this to be true after running into someone else I saw in the video the following day at the convention center. I was curious to know what he thought of the piece and whether he agreed with the was I felt about it.
To my surprise (and clearly his as well), he didn't know he was part of such video.
Now, I'm not exactly a celebrity who gets interviewed all the time, but the times I have appeared on camera for whatever reason, I have always been asked by journalists:
- If it's OK for me to be recorded (which Mrs. Worley did with me but apparently not with everybody)
- To spell my name a couple of times (which didn't happen here, "I wonder why...")
- My profession.
This last point was clearly absent once I saw a transcript of what I said on camera as coming from a Google Employee!
I don't know about you, but I personally wouldn't want Becky Worley covering a high-profile legal case... --probably not even a kitten rescue effort from a suburban neighbourhood.
The article has since been modified after I tweeted at @bworley for me to be referred as an Interaction Designer instead. Gladly, she replied rather quickly.
Whether I'm in this pointless news article or not, the arguments against Glass being surfaced by Worley are not well founded and clearly follow an anti-Google agenda that doesn't (or at least shouldn't) suit a company like Yahoo!. I find it disappointing that they let people like Becky Worley run a piece like this and move on to covering tech news on programmes like Good Morning America.
To conclude: It should be clear to anyone who knows me (or reads what I write) that I like Glass. I support what it stands for and appreciate what it does for me as a user. I'm not a devotee who thinks it's the best thing in technology since the iPhone, but I advocate in it's name because my experience with it allows me to evangelize it's benefits (and be honest about it's shortcomings). But nevertheless, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth to see myself be part of a deceptive news piece that used me and other Glass Explorers unknowingly as a weapon to make something we are clearly proud to wear look as bad as possible.
Ideally, I would want this whole article to be removed, mainly based on the poor and dishonest way in which it came to be. But ultimately, I'd like for it to be seen by as many people as possible in order for everyone to know how integral of a reporter Mrs. Worley actually is... --and obviously to think twice before considering Yahoo! Tech as a news source worth your time & trust.