One group that seemed SUPER excited about it was black guys! Haha… I guess I could say African-Americans, but I saw several groups in Canada too, so I don’t even know what — is that African Canadian? Err… I’m not a journalist… so, I’ll just… dispense with all the labeling and let’s just say, err… well… groups of non-white-people that gathered on the street. This happened like eight times! They would get really excited and say things like, “Wow, that’s the Google Glass!!!!” “I gotta get me some of that!” “That looks TIGHT – how much is it!!” Haha it was great… I went over to talk to them all and they had so much fun with it. My guess is that more “white” people would have reacted like this too, but they are sometimes more reserved. Haha… man, I know… what a generalization, but I’m just telling you what happened to me.
So, let’s talk about China. Crickets. Man, they just would look at me curiously for a second and then turn their heads away. It was really interesting. Very few people came up to me, and they were usually younger (teens and twenties). But, mostly, they was just silent about it. I attribute some of it to not speaking English, but I think there was something larger going on.
It may be a combination of vestigial communist cultural reactions to strangers and general “out-of-the-box-shock” at seeing the Glass. Now, the Chinese are as technophilic as their Western counterparts. They are iPhone and iPad crazy! You go into any Starbucks, and upwardly mobile and middle-class people fill every seat and stare at their iPhones. Apple did a great job of marketing there, and the “lifestyle” of a high-end tech user is quite aspirational. It’s a wonderful sign of wealth and upward mobility, which is very important in their new money-driven culture.
Glass shot: A boy watches his girlfriend prancing and dancing in the street.
There is something still broken in the Chinese culture, I’m afraid. It’s the cultural idea of innovation and design. It does indeed exist in pockets (I met many people with tech startups, Google, Youku, and many other places that are mega-techy and doing awesome stuff) , but, generally, there is not a cultural “worship” of technology innovation like there is in the West. For that reason, I think we’ll continue to see the “bigger” ideas (that are well executed!) like Glass and others come from the West. I had lunch with Kevin Kelly, who spends even more time studying the Chinese culture. He recently visited several dorm rooms all over the country and saw that they had very few (or often, none) aspirations beyond making money. He said there were no posters on the wall, and when he asked them who their “heroes” are, they could not give any answers. It’s strange indeed, and may point to a larger cultural issue. I hope Kevin writes a book about it!