Google's boss fears for our goolies

Mar 1, 2013

Thought you'd heard it all as far as the remorseless hype and posturing that characterises parts of our industry goes? Well, I'm afraid you haven't. So, a drum roll and a new jock-strap please for Google co-founder and all-round beast of a man, Sergey Brin. Mr. Brin, in one of his periodic pronouncements from on high, (in this particular manifestation he was in Los Angeles talking-up Google Glass) let it be known that smartphones are "emasculating."

The only one response a red-blooded male can make to such nonsense is "Bollocks!"

According to Mr. Brin, addressing massed ranks of unsuspecting potential castrati at the Technology, Education and Design (TED) conference in La-La land, Google Glass will change the world by rendering smart phones redundant and taking the earth back to its golden dawn when men were men who supped freely and oft from the testosterone fountains of Eden.

Right, Google Glass is essentially a wearable computer with a Bluetooth connection and a camera. The wearer is presented with a voice activated head-up display that provides an "augmented reality". Rumours have it that the devices will hit the market sometime later this year and will cost more than US$1,500 per pair. Mr. Brin has been seen wearing a pair on the New York subway and was several times mistaken for a welder.

Brin has this thing about people, including himself, natch, being forced to "stare down" at smartphones. It's just so demeaning and unmanly. “Is this the way you’re meant to interact with other people?" he asked - and then immediately answered his own rhetorical question thus, "It’s kind of emasculating. Is this what you’re meant to do with your body?”

Sergey then went on to say, “I have a nervous tic. The cell phone is a nervous habit . If I smoked, I’d probably smoke instead, It’d look cooler. (really? Ed.) But I whip this out and look as if I have something important to do." Oo, err, missus!

He added, "I feel like it [using a smartphone] is kind of emasculating. You’re standing there just rubbing this featureless piece of glass". No, Sergey, that's what window cleaners do. Smartphone users are interacting with their devices to do practical things like making a call and accessing the Internet.

And let us remember that Google first financed the development of the Android operating system and later bought it outright. It is now the world's most widely used smartphone platform. What then are Android users meant to take away from Mr. Brin's little outburst, other than that he is contemptuous and dismissive of them? Does Sergey really want to geld the goose that lays so very many golden eggs for his company? It would be a very macho thing to do, but really, really expensive.

Perhaps the best answer would be for him to rename the OS as "Mandroid, The Masculine OS For Manly Men". Mind you,to do so would be to alienate the more than 50 per cent of Android-based smartphone users who are women and therefore cannot possibly be caponised by glancing down at a mobile phone display.

Moving on to further evangelise his pet project, Mr. Brin admitted that when you strap a pair of the Google goggles onto your face, you do look " a little freaky at first but you do get used to it." Well, we have had to get used to him and his monster company so we might be equally able to get used to wandering around in nerdy, high-tech giglamps and walking into walls.

Quite why Brin's masculinity is apparently so threatened by having to look down at a phone screen is a matter of much conjecture and jokery on the web today and Google itself is trying to float the notion that what Sergey Brin meant to say was "embarrasing" rather than "emasculating." If that is the case it was a classic and revealing Freudian slip that gave us an intriguing insight into Mr. Brin's psyche. Be afraid.

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