What the First Arrest Captured on Google Glass Really Means

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On July 4th, documentary filmmaker named Chris Barrett took his newly acquired pair of Google Glasses out for a stroll on the very busy, proudly recovered Jersey Shore boardwalk. What happened next was either something extraordinary, or something completely innocuous, depending on how much hyperbole you like to put behind things that happen on Google Glass. 

Newt wore them. There was a wedding proposal captured on its video recorder. A crazy man took a picture of himself wearing Google Glass in the shower. We know what it's like to play basketball while wearing Google Glass. What I'm getting at is there were very few barriers left for this medium to cross, besides the obvious unseemly one, before Barrett went out and captured the first fight and subsequent arrest using the extended video recording option. And no, this isn't a video of the person wearing Google Glass getting beat up. (Though we're sure that will happen soon.)

"I wanted to test Glass out, so I filmed some fireworks, getting a very cool first-person perspective. About 10 minutes after the fireworks, we were walking back to our car, and I just decided to try it out on the boardwalk," Barrett told VentureBeat on Friday. There's very little pugilism in the actual video. No one yells "World Star!" like every other fight video on the internet. You can see some scuffling over a shoulder or two, but there are no visible punches thrown. Just the immediate, tense, enraptured crowd, and the required shirtless sweaty bros, that come after a fight among a drunken throng of people. Eventually the authorities step in and arrest a a few of the sane, surely sober young men who decided to celebrate their independence with a scrap. Here's what Barrett wrote about the scene on his YouTube video: 

Tonight, I was testing out the extended video recording option with Google Glass on the Boardwalk of Wildwood, New Jersey. I walked right into the tail end of a fight happening on Jersey Shore boardwalk and filmed the first arrest through the lens of my Google Glass.

This video is proof that Google Glass will change citizen journalism forever.

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Well, that is certainly a claim one can make about the first arrest captured on Google Glass. As with everything that happens on these glasses, the significance of the event must now be debated and, sure enough, that discussion has already started. Some people don't think this video means very much, and it certainly won't change journalism in any way. "Because if human nature has taught me anything," writes Ashley Burns at Uproxx, "it’s that more people will spend $1,500 on Google Glass with the hopes of catching a nip slip or their dog doing something hilarious than they will Edward Snowden eating biscuits and gravy at a Cracker Barrel. But of course I hope I’m wrong."

But others are more optimistic about how Google Glass change our life in new and creative ways, or something. Christophe Gevrey, the Global Head of Editorial Solutions for Thompson Reuters, writes on his personal website that the video does signal something significant: "More notable than the video itself is the ease at which it was captured without the knowledge of those in the middle of the melee," he says. "His footage foreshadows the rapidly approaching future where everything can be filmed serendipitously by folks wearing devices like Google Glass without the knowledge of the parties involved." If the NSA is big brother, Glassholes are the new little brother.

Who knows if that will actually happen. Google Glass can do plenty of things and, yes, record video is one of them. But this video is everything people are afraid of when it comes to Google Glass's popularity. Oh well! Just wait until someone wearing Google Glass gets beat up. That's the video I want to see. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.