It was February 22, really, when the stories about Google Glass finally began to catch my attention. This is the one that first fired my imagination:

Verge: I used Google Glass: Up close and personal with Google’s visionary new computer

That was the story that convinced me that Glass (or some future, similar device) was something I’d actually maybe want to use. I believe it was this paragraph that actually did the trick:

If you get a text message or have an incoming call when you’re walking down a busy street, there are something like two or three things you have to do before you can deal with that situation. Most of them involve you completely taking your attention off of your task at hand: walking down the street. With Glass, that information just appears to you, in your line of sight, ready for you to take action on. And taking that action is little more than touching the side of Glass or tilting your head up – nothing that would take you away from your main task of not running into people.

Of course, it was only six days later on February 28 that I began to see the hideous tentacles behind the curtain:

Creative Good: The Google Glass feature no one is talking about

I was (and remain) confident that all the person-to-person privacy issues (“Are you filming me now? Please take off the glasses”) will sort themselves out through normal cultural adjustment, but I hadn’t really considered the full implications of making every Glass-wearer into an uncompensated Google StreetView camera-monkey:

Take the video feeds from every Google Glass headset, worn by users worldwide. Regardless of whether video is only recorded temporarily, as in the first version of Glass, or always-on, as is certainly possible in future versions, the video all streams into Google’s own cloud of servers. Now add in facial recognition and the identity database that Google is building within Google Plus (with an emphasis on people’s accurate, real-world names): Google’s servers can process video files, at their leisure, to attempt identification on every person appearing in every video. And if Google Plus doesn’t sound like much, note that Mark Zuckerberg has already pledged that Facebook will develop apps for Glass.

Finally, consider the speech-to-text software that Google already employs, both in its servers and on the Glass devices themselves. Any audio in a video could, technically speaking, be converted to text, tagged to the individual who spoke it, and made fully searchable within Google’s search index.

The really interesting aspect is that all of the indexing, tagging, and storage could happen without the Google Glass user even requesting it. Any video taken by any Google Glass, anywhere, is likely to be stored on Google servers, where any post-processing (facial recognition, speech-to-text, etc.) could happen at the later request of Google, or any other corporate or governmental body, at any point in the future.

Remember when people were kind of creeped out by that car Google drove around to take pictures of your house? Most people got over it, because they got a nice StreetView feature in Google Maps as a result.

Google Glass is like one camera car for each of the thousands, possibly millions, of people who will wear the device — every single day, everywhere they go — on sidewalks, into restaurants, up elevators, around your office, into your home. From now on, starting today, anywhere you go within range of a Google Glass device, everything you do could be recorded and uploaded to Google’s cloud, and stored there for the rest of your life. You won’t know if you’re being recorded or not; and even if you do, you’ll have no way to stop it.

Well, that’s gonna suck. But if wearable computing is a compelling user experience, people will suck it up and monkey-cam their way to happiness. Let’s move on to the porn stuff, shall we?

Fast forward to April 17, which was the day a bizarre trainwreck of competing Glass stories landed. Let me just dump these two headlines here for you in the order that I saw them:

Wired: Google Is Forbidding Users From Reselling, Loaning Glass Eyewear
BizJournals: How Google Glass will change porn forever

Do you see the dialectical struggle between those two headlines?

Up until the moment I saw the first headline, I had assumed that Glass would be just another Android device, running some sort of special Android software to be sure, but basically part of the open Android ecosystem that allows users to run whatever software they want on their hardware. More fool me:

The company’s terms of service on the limited-edition wearable computer specifically states, “you may not resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person. If you resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person without Google’s authorization, Google reserves the right to deactivate the device, and neither you nor the unauthorized person using the device will be entitled to any refund, product support, or product warranty.”

If they’ve got the power to remotely deactivate your computer, that means you don’t own it; and it also means that in order to preserve that power, they’ve got to control the software you run on it. Which means Google Glass will be like the iPhone — a walled garden ecosystem, not an open one.

And porn is never welcome for long in corporate walled gardens. The Pornocalypse Comes For Us All. The instant I saw those terms of service, I knew that Glass would never be a porn-friendly device. Knew it. Dismissed it from my adult interest. Never gonna happen. Game over, man.

Nor was that any kind of surprise. Google has grown increasingly porn-hostile in recent years. Remember when they removed the “off” setting from the SafeSearch filter button, and turned it into a toggle between “on” and the former “moderate” setting? Have you noticed how harshly porn sites are penalized in the search algorithms lately? Remember when they started filtering Violet Blue out of the autocomplete search dropdowns? Or decided that there’s no such thing as a “safe search” for “clitoris” while allowing three million “safe” results for “penis”? The Pornocalypse Comes For Us All.

So if porn on Google Glass was always a non-starter, what was up with that other “Glass will change porn forever” headline that dropped on the same day? Well, it turns out that the Silicon Valley Business Journal interviewed’s Peter Acworth and got some great quotes, which (because he makes porn for a living) are (when you look at them closely) all about how Google Glass might change the making of porn, rather than its consumption or distribution:

“Google Glass opens up new opportunities for reality-based films,” says Acworth.

Acworth says Glass offers amateur filmmakers the opportunity to produce homegrown films featuring couples at home or other spontaneous situations.

“You could film picking up someone at a bar and taking them home, for example,” he said. “It takes the whole genre of POV and reality productions one stage further. You’ll hopefully get something very authentic.”

And that’s nifty (once you gulp yourself past those “sorting out the interpersonal privacy stuff” issues I hand-waved us past near the beginning of this post), but it doesn’t require Glass to be porn-friendly. Acworth is talking about Glass as a new sort of camera device, and that’s it.

So, that was April. In early May, I wrote this post:

ErosBlog: Google Glass: No Fuck For You!

It was actually a bit of a cheap shot on my part, reflecting my increasing awareness (and perhaps even a bit of nascent bitterness) that Google Glass wasn’t going to be an open platform that adults could play with. The actual story was that the voice-recogniton-to-email engine built into Glass was censoring cuss words, replacing them with asterisks. And as I noted at the time, this “felt” more like an accidental default setting inherited from some earlier, more business-corporate use of the voice recognition engine. But it prompted me to write this:

What’s it going to be like, living in a world where everything you say passes through filters you can’t see and don’t control? Where, when you search for something you can’t find, you don’t know if it doesn’t exist or if it was silently filtered from your search results? When someone says something to you, did they actually say that? Or were their words edited on the fly?

Obviously this is relevant to the Pornocalypse discussion. If the corporate data silos that own the filters are porn-hostile, the world will look very different than it would if the filters were transparent and under user control.

That was early May. Then in late May came a spate of stories about genuine porn apps (well, really only one) coming soon for Google Glass:

Huffington Post: Google Glass Porn App To Be Released In A ‘Couple Of Days’ By MiKandi Porn App Store
New York Post: XXX-ray vision: Google Glass getting porn apps
Time: Yes, Of Course There Will Be Google Glass Porn

The only story I actually bothered to read at the time was the one by Violet Blue, because I knew deep in my gut that there would never be porn apps on Google Glass:

ZDNet: MiKandi making Google Glass porn, app imminent

Violet expressed a little bit of the necessary skepticism:

However excited as I am to see what Mikandi does with Glass, I think I’m not the only one wondering if Google is going to pull an Apple and send MiKiandi a cease-and-desist — or worse.

Indeed. And that brings our pornocalypse timeline up to yesterday, June 3rd, when the “porn app for Glass” finally released:

TechNewsDaily: MiKandi Launches First Google Glass Porn App
Mashable: Google Glass Gets Its First Porn App
NBC: Porn app comes to Google Glass – are you surprised?

Buried in the TechNewsDaily story was the key kernel of cold-water truth that would inform the next wave of headlines:

MiKandi has been keeping close tabs on Google Glass’ terms of service, and discovered that over the weekend that they now prohibit sexually explicit apps. “We were not notified of any changes and still haven’t been notified,” said McEwen. “We wanted to be sure we played within Google’s boundaries and push the envelope in a responsible way.”

That’s the anticipatory drumroll before the headsman’s axe falls, people. But — late yesterday while the drum tattoo was still beating — I saw a different story that reinforced the extent to which Glass is going to be a walled garden:

Slate: “Don’t Be Creepy”: Google Glass Won’t Allow Face Recognition

People (and not just cops!) are really going to want facial recognition in their wearable field-of-vision computers. Those of us with a touch of face-blindness, in particular, would really welcome an app that put names over heads just like in World Of Warcraft. But, no, here’s Google’s Saturday update to the developer policies:

Don’t use the camera or microphone to cross-reference and immediately present personal information identifying anyone other than the user, including use cases such as facial recognition and voice print. Applications that do this will not be approved at this time.

Walled garden, folks. Your hardware is not actually yours. It will not run the software that you want it to run. It will only run the software Google wants it to run.

Meanwhile, back here in porn world, the drumbeat about the Glass porn app came to its abrupt crescendo later in the day yesterday. The axe fell. Let’s go right to the horse’s mouth for this one, to the Mikandi blog:

Mikandi: Google Bans Glass Porn Apps

This is worth quoting in some detail:

Wow, what a morning, folks. Really. We appreciate all the positive feedback on our adult Glass app, Tits & Glass.

Since we announced the availability of Tits & Glass this morning, nearly 10,000 unique vistors have visited, and a dozen Glass users have already signed up with our app. Not surprisingly, we’ve reached our API limits. Our previously approved request to up our limit was later denied today, so unfortunately, there’ll be no more updates to Tits & Glass until tomorrow.

However, more importantly, and thus the purpose behind this blog post- MiKandi became aware today that Google changed its policy over the weekend to ban adult content on all Glassware.

When we received our Glass and started developing our app 2 weeks ago, we went through the policy very carefully to make sure we were developing the app within the terms. We double checked again last week when making the site live on the Internet and available for install for testing during last week’s announcement. We were not notified of any changes and still haven’t been notified by Google. We also double checked our emails to see if any notifications of policy changes were announced, but we haven’t found any such emails.

Although the app is still live and people are using it, at this point we must make changes to the app in order to comply with the new policies.

The Pornocalypse Comes For Us All. I could have told ’em, if they’d asked me.

Of course this has triggered a storm of breathless headlines that I found waiting in my morning feeds:

Fox News: Mikandi Porn app for Google Glass released, immediately banned
ABC: Google Strips First Glass Porn App, Bans Adult Content on Its Connected Glasses
Daily Mail: Google Glass porn app launched – and then swiftly banned
Silicon Republic: Google quickly updates policy to shut down porn apps for Glass

There’s about 600 more of these — it appears to be the tech story of yesterday and today — but they all say the same thing. Here’s Google’s corporate-bland response, to the Fox News reporter:

“Our policies make it clear that Glass does not allow Glassware content that contains nudity, graphic sexual acts, or sexually explicit material. Any Glassware that violates this policy will be blocked from appearing on Glass.

Our Explorer Program makes users active participants in evolving Glass ahead of a wider consumer launch. In keeping with this approach, we’ve updated our developer policies. We look forward to learning more from our users as we update the software and evolve our policies in the weeks and months ahead.”

And there you have it, folks, straight from the belly of the data-silo. You might spend 1,500 smackeroos to buy your Google Glasses, but Google says you can’t run any software on there that might specifically facilitate your ability to see bare titties. It’s the iPhone all over again. Nifty for what it does? Sure enough. But the device does not work for you. It doesn’t truly belong to you. You’ll never truly own it. It’s just a hardware portal for that limited subset of activities the manufacturer considers to be consistent with its own corporate image.

I’ve said it before and I’ve got the weary certainty that I’ll be saying it many times again:

The Pornocalypse Comes For Us All.

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