Google Glass and Adult Entertainment Could Lead to New Forms of Internet Censorship

Google Glass and Adult Entertainment Could Lead to New Forms of Internet CensorshipImage credit: CBS Interactive

In a way, Glass could become a huge incentive to view stranger and more taboo subject matter in inappropriate settings. The lingua franca of the Internet is not free content, after all, but content taken out of context. Its most pervasive and popular forms are "memes," simple pictures whose natural context has been changed by captions that force new meanings on them. A bored animal having lunch, suddenly becomes a Llama that is very disappointed in you.

Google Glass is an engine for decontextualizing reality itself, forcing the meaning of a crowded subway into a new context by experiencing it alongside some concretized snippet of your subconscious. The power of the technology is not in making it half a second easier to read a text message or update your digital calendar, but in creating a tool that gives a person some crude ability to take control of their personal context away from group norms.

If Glass becomes as ubiquitous as iPhones and laptops are today, it is hard to imagine its essential privacy not triggering waves of paranoia about appropriateness. The end result would necessitate some net of content filtration being cast over the Internet as a whole, either through outright censorship, or individual censorship of each query.

Would we really want a convicted militiamen looking up bomb recipes or 3D printing schematics for guns in the middle of Times Square?  Would we be able to tolerate a paroled sex offender watching a certain kind of video while walking past a playground or toy store? The less of the context we can control as a group, the more we will want to create technical structures that do it for us in proxy. In that way, Google Glass may be the catalytic turning point where the already dying wildness of the Internet becomes overwritten with restraints of modernity, just as the mythic expanses of the Wild West eventually gave way to paved city grids and cops to keep them safe from weirdos like you.

Michael Thomsen is Complex.com's tech columnist. He has written for Slate, The Atlantic, The New Inquiry, n+1, Billboard, and is author of Levitate the Primate: Handjobs, Internet Dating, and Other Issues for Men. He tweets often at @mike_thomsen.

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