When we first learned that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had purchased a home in the Mission District—and was attempting to rebrand himself as a “Mission Hipster”—we couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the situation. Dropping ten-plus million on a weekend home in a neighborhood many feel Zuckerberg is already helping to gentrify one shuttle bus at a time, only to spend his nights putting back drinks in local dives, seemed like adding insult to injury.
Like, can’t you at least leave us our dive bars? Do you have to ruin those too?
But that was just the drunken lament of the broke Mission dirt bag, quietly sipping a Cutty Bang and pondering his/her own irrelevance. Surely, the wealthy residents of the Mission would welcome this new neighbor with open, smart watch-adorned arms.
Well, it turns out, not so much. Apparently Zuckerberg’s 17 month (and counting) non-stop renovation of his Mission District home has irked some of the neighbors.
Welcome to Fort Zuckerberg — the $10 million Dolores Heights “fixer-upper” that Mark Zuckerberg and his wife have turned into a massive construction encampment that has some neighbors feeling under siege by the Facebook founder.
Their problem goes beyond the rash of “no parking” signs on 21st Street near Dolores Street that have kept them from parking outside their own homes these past 17 months.
Dozens of construction workers, using backhoes and jackhammers, are busy installing everything from a new kitchen to bathrooms and decks — and tearing up the sidewalks for new fiber-optic cables that will connect to the home. […]
A man in a hardhat identifying himself as the prime contractor, but who wouldn’t give his name, acknowledged that there have been 40 to 50 workers on the job daily since work began in April 2013.
While living in the city naturally entails dealing with construction and its associated nuisances, we can’t help but feel a bit of sympathy for those forced to endure the increasingly absurd additions to this member of the tech elite’s pied-à-terre.
We get it Mark. You’re young, rich, and don’t give a fuck if the construction of your “basement garage, complete with a turntable pad” upsets your neighbors. But do you have to be such a dick about it?
Even while San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee chooses toroll back millions in revenuefrom parking meters on Sundays, a startup is arbitraging the difference between the city’s woefully underpriced public parking and peak demand by allowing users to auction off access to the land underneath their car. As far as Uptown Almanac can tell, the MonkeyParking app is, actually, a thing.
You wake up somewhere on the outskirts of the Bay Area where you’re staying with a friend because your place is rented out through Airbnb. Or, you know, you’ve life-hacked your way toward prosperity by just living in your car. The point is, get your shitheap to San Francisco, where self-important people with money will pay almost any price for convenience.
Drive around for a while until you find some parking in a busy, popular neighborhood. In the Mission, for instance. Preferably before noon.
Now give MonkeyParking your location and wait. A customer can offer a starting bid of $5 for someone willing to leave their spot. If no one else nearby is running the same racket, watch a while as the bid goes up. Maybe chuckle while you imagine your mark circling the popular shopping district full of pedestrians while they fumble with their smartphone.
Go ahead and accept the bid when it hits $10, $15, even $20 — there doesn’t seem to be any limit! MonkeyParking will tell the other driver where to find you. And collect a percentage of the transaction.
Now you can circle around the block looking for another spot to squat. Maybe pick up some Lyft passengers while you’re at it!
Now if this sounds like the last time you tried to park near Union Square and someone flagged you to an empty space and then asked you for a tip, but for the cloud, you wouldn’t be entirely off the mark. Of course, that person is the kind of social undesirable like the infamous “squeegeemen” of New York City that quality-of-life mayors stretching back to Rudy Giuliani love to harass. But app-ify it, and suddenly Mayor Lee is recommending an investment in your startup to venture capitalist Ron Conway, thereby telling him how to do his job for a change.
It’s hard to believe that MonkeyParking isn’t a joke about startups, but after looking at two years of online activity, the company and founder’s pages on AngelList, conference listings, downloading the app and trading messages with the company’s Twitter account, we’re losing hope it’s all an elaborate hoax by Italian anarchists with a wicked sense of humor. Instead, it seems to be just more crazy kids with a Silicon Valley dream who don’t play by the rules and believe that they’re making the world a better place.
@HalpernAlex we just provide info about spots that are going to become free. no intentions to do something bad: we aim at reducing traffic!
The thing is, a ridiculously large portion of the 49 square miles in San Francisco is set aside for parking cars. And what the city owns, it hardly charges enough for. The SFPark program introduced in 2010 has used a different method to achieve goals similar to those stated by MonkeyParking, which is to assure parking availability even during busy times: By increasing the cost of the most popular spots. But that money goes straight to the SFMTA, which perpetually needs it for things like paying the Police Department millions for “security services”—as it should, because that land and the infrastructure improvements on it are public property.
To be fair, you have to admire the hustlers who’d try to sell you a public parking spot, if only because of how ridiculous the marks who get suckered must be. And while Sunday Meters was proven to work to reduce wait times and increase parking availability and turnover, Mayor Lee took an opportunity to explain why he gutted it to complain about parking tickets and Muni passengers. The SFPark program is currently still in effect, though in an “evaluation” phase, which means that it’s turned off the sensors under the spots, cut off most of the data available to developers and even taken its own app from Apple’s App Store.
One can only imagine what will happen if it needs Mayor Lee’s approval to move forward. It turns out that the “Sharing Economy” group that his office took credit for putting together in an effort to persuade City Treasurer Jose Cisneros not to go after Airbnb and Uber for taxes never actually met. Meanwhile, any Cocoa developer from around the world can show up and start literally auctioning public land off to the highest bidder—land that Mayor Lee is happy to just keep giving away for free.
On Tuesday, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve an amendment by Supervisor Eric Mar to the city’s health code that will effectively ban e-cigarettes wherever smoking is currently prohibited, which includes most publicly accessible indoor areas, areas around building entrances and windows, and city parks. Mayor Ed Lee has voiced his support for the proposal, meaning the law will likely come into effect within the next few weeks.
Nicotine replacement therapy to treat addiction is an established practice considered very low-risk with ample long-term data. It’s obviously too soon to have any long-term studies on vaporized nicotine yet, but there are plenty of indications that the route of administration offers significantly reduced risks compared to smoking. And that’s not just according to device manufacturers like Mission-based Ploom. This may be a unique opportunity to significantly reduce smoking-related illness, the number one cause of death in the United States. If the goal of amending the Health Code is to reduce the impact of smoking, why is San Francisco actively discouraging alternatives?
“You must have a cigarette. A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?” So declares Lord Wotton to the titular protagonist in Oscar Wilde’s fable of aesthetic philosophy and hedonism, The Portrait of Dorian Gray. During the Victorian era, the cigarette became a popular marvel of industrial technology, combining mechanized mass production with a global commodities trade in tobacco to create a product that was simple, portable, inexpensive and wildly, wildly addictive.
In the novel, Gray’s friend Basil Hallward paints a flattering portrait which shows the reality of Gray’s decline, allowing Gray to indulge in a fantasy of immortality. An apt metaphor Big Tobacco’s propaganda efforts throughout the 20th century as the health risks of cigarettes became widely known.
In 1964, the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health formally declared in the United States that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer. The next year, Herman Gilbert patented “an object to provide a safe and harmless means for and method of smoking by replacing burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist, flavored air.” But it never made an impact commercially, and tobacco companies largely chose to continue the propaganda campaign.
Some product development did take place, and in 1988 and then again in 1994, RJ Reynolds introduced the Premier and Eclipse, respectively, which were an effort to create a cigarette-like experience without most of the carcinogens and external effects like second-hand smoke. They did surprisingly succeed in achieving those goals with a carbon-heated vaporizer technology, but it also never caught on among smokers.
Finally, in 2003, pharmacist Hon Lik developed an electric vaporizer that emitted a nicotine-laced aerosol for Chinese company Golden Dragon Holdings, which later changed its name to Ruyan. The first commercial models were released in 2004, and exported in 2005 and received international patent protection in 2007.
After over a century, a product with much of the aesthetic experience of smoking a cigarette but without much of the mortal danger actually began to catch on among smokers around the world.
At the time, James Monsees and Adam Bowen were students at Stanford’s Joint Program in Design. There they started what became the company and product Ploom as a masters thesis in 2005, which they presented as a prototype concept. “In 2005, my brother was living in China and he was able to pick one up for me,” Monsees explained in an interview at his office, in a building the company incidentally shares with the Burning Man Project. “I’d heard only because we were heavily researching the market.”
It was this huge box, this entire kit. Because there was nowhere you could buy refills for the thing. E-cig liquid you couldn’t buy aftermarket, either, so you had to buy an insane number of cartridges. I think the kit included like 50 cartridges. And the device was like a big cigar, it was not very good. It was the first generation e-cigarette technology that used a true atomizer, it used a vibrating mesh to create an aerosol. Everything you see know is a resistive heating coil-based technology. And it cost, like, at least $300 use for this giant kit. So we got one, and that was my first exposure to the product.
Monsees and Bowen spent two years on further research and searching for investors before raising seed capital and incorporating in 2007. The first product released by the company, the Model One, was a butane-heated vaporizer that uses disposable pods of leaf tobacco. Their next product, the Pax, dropped the pods and switched to battery power but, to be frank, is probably not used primarily to vaporize tobacco. Today you can pick up a Pax along with your favorite strain of medicine at SPARC.
But as the consumer demand for nicotine vaporizers began to become clear, the business interest from tobacco companies also surged. Japan Tobacco International, which owns Camel among other brands, announced an investment in Ploom and a distribution partnership in 2011, the same year the Model One was released. In 2013, the company introduced the Model Two, a battery-powered device specifically for tobacco.
The rapid growth of the market has produced dozens of competing brands and technological approaches. The blu disposable e-cigarette, which uses the more common nicotine solution technology, has become a leader in the American market and was purchased by Lorillard in 2012. A wide variety of manufacturers of vaporizer parts and accessories and nicotine solutions now create hundreds of products which are now widely available wherever cigarettes are sold, as well as through speciality shops and online retailers.
That was less than ten years ago we first really saw these products at all, in any way, and now they’re so commoditized all of the sudden. That is at the heart of why these regulations are so difficult right now, and really why your seeing them at all. I think in time, in another ten years—or less, hopefully, fingers crossed—there will be a heightened understanding of the substantially improved benefits for public health in particular based on that technology.
The Food and Drug Administration first attempted to regulate e-cigarettes as medical device for drug delivery under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, but that effort was challenged in court and struck down in a decision which held up under appeal. However, the FDA now plans to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products under the provisions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, passed in 2009, and “intends to issue a proposed rule extending FDA’s tobacco product authorities beyond the above products to include other products like e-cigarettes.” The European Parliament is waiting for final approval from member states for its proposed rules, which ban advertising, require health warnings and limit nicotine levels.
Also in 2009, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (a cigar enthusiast) vetoed Assembly Bill 400, which would have declared nicotine vaporizers a federally regulated drug and effectively banned them, but leaving the state free to regulate them as tobacco products in order to bar sales to minors. Assemblymember Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, introduced a bill this year to ban all online sales of tobacco products in California, including e-cigarettes, while municipal governments in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles have put bans into place since the end of 2013, when long-time anti-smoking crusader and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed that city’s ban into law on his last day in office.
At public comment during the Rules Committee hearing on San Francisco’s ban, supporters argued that e-cigarettes are being marketed to children, who might try the devices and start smoking real cigarettes as a result. However, the evidence of this risk was not particularly compelling, no evidence at all was presented of secondary risks to non-users, and the amendment won’t affect marketing or advertising to children or anyone else. But it will shut the window on the opportunity to vaporize nicotine indoors, a liberty that has significantly increases the appeal of e-cigarettes to existing smokers.
Maybe the most significant data point is that only 12.5 percent of San Franciscans smoke regularly according to Doctor Tomas Aragon at the Department of Public Health, and fewer still likely use e-cigarettes, making their concerns as a constituency easy to marginalize. Anti-smoking activists, who could once count on scientific evidence to support their arguments, seem to be leaving science behind in favor of pious zealotry just as technology may have actually come around to address many, if not most, of the negative consequences typically associated with nicotine addiction.
“I think that’s why this is particularly sad that it’s happening here. We’re smarter than this,” Monsees lamented. In his opinion of San Francisco legislators, “They’re moving quickly to adopt something that has just become a trend across major metropolitan areas.” He feels that the city could be leading the way by sponsoring research independent of federal regulators rather than following the crowd. “I don’t think that action like these at the government level in San Francisco are reflective of the generally mentality of San Franciscans — or would be, if people were properly informed.”
He believes there will be a review of any decisions as more scientific research becomes available, and that the government bears a role in conducting that research if it’s going to make policy proactively. “Is there the financial incentive for companies like us, or major tobacco companies, to do that kind of research if it means an open opportunity to sell those products on the market? Absolutely! But are those products needed today? Are they already on the market? Yes. That’s the reality we live in. There’s been a pent up demand for these products for decades.”
Director of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products Mitch Zeller was cited by Monsees as a pragmatist in this regard. Before being appointed in 2013, Zeller was employed at Pinney Associates, which describes itself as a pharmaceutical risk management group. There, in 2012, Zellar wrote an assesment of strategies for continued tobacco control efforts. “Anyone who would ponder the endgame must acknowledge that the continuum of risk exists and pursue strategies that are designed to drive consumers from the most deadly and dangerous to the least harmful forms of nicotine delivery.”
When asked if he feels that Ploom’s products will be target for enforcement as something which “simulates smoking,” Monsees didn’t seem troubled in any case.
I don’t think that it will have a major impact on our business. I think that our products are really attractive to consumers, in particular because, in our view, internally, they don’t simulate smoking. We’re kind of an oddball in the tobacco industry. In that we’re not interested in simulating smoking. What we’re really interested in doing is understanding, from a consumer level, what people like about smoking and giving them a totally new experience that builds on the good stuff and eliminates the bad stuff. In a totally new way, totally different.
In my view, we don’t simulate smoking. But I don’t think that view has much of anything to do with if it will hurt business or not. The reality is, I don’t think it will hurt business because I don’t think people care about this law. I don’t think it’s going to discourage people from doing what they think is reasonable. It does give law enforcement a tool to enforce offensive behavior by an individual when it’s not appropriate.
Wilde describes how Gray’s wealth and incorruptible beauty—the wages of his sins accruing only on the canvas—bought him access both to the base delights of London’s streets and access to the exclusivity of polite society. On the one hand, supporters of the ban worry e-cigarettes will become as fashionable as cigarettes once were if regulations are too lax, turning back the clock on smoking eradication efforts. Whereas opponents hope smokers, who are more likely to live below the poverty line than non-smokers, might be encouraged to switch if offered less social marginalization, legal complication and regressive taxation.
Our products enable more broad use without offending people. There’s no doubt about that. Smoking, it lingers, it leaves walls and floors and desks and carpets smelling like smoke for a really long time afterwards. It’s really easy to offend people when it survives your presence for such a long period of time. And our products don’t really do that, so it’s much easier to be courteous. And that’s what we suggest people do.
While Monsees supports consumer protection regulations, like product quality control and marketing towards children. But his belief is that the market may have already trumped any political fait accomplis. A familiar laissez fair sentiment, but then some good always does survive gilded ages, and it’s not clear which view is the more “progressive” in this particular case. Preemptively legislating etiquette with punitive measures in the absence of facts and possibly at the expense of positive community health results seems at least as, if not more, irrationally exuberant.
Hopefully the next time the issue comes up, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors can put on a science show instead of a morality play.
Sarah Slocum embarrassed her way into the national spotlight late last month, telling her questionable story of being assaulted for sporting Google Glass in Molotov’s to any reporter needing to fill airtime. The fallout was swift: bars banned the tech, bars banned the victim, an employee for Molotov’s was fired, and the tech community walked away with another black eye they didn’t ask for and didn’t deserve.
But Sarah Slocum continues to grandstand, asking Google for free tickets to SXSW and racking up tens of Twitter followers. So imagine our surprise to learn that two years ago, a judge granted Sarah Slocum’s neighbors a restraining order on the wearable warrior for “surreptitiously recording them with her smartphone.”
In an interview with The Times, Jessie Lilley Campbell said she was sitting with her husband and their landlord in the living room of their Aptos, Calif., home on the evening of May 15, 2012, when she noticed that someone was holding up a smartphone to record the conversation through an open window.
Campbell said she opened the front door and spotted Slocum, who at the time lived in a cabin on the property. She confronted Slocum, who denied recording the conversation.
The next morning, Campbell filed for a restraining order. Campbell said Slocum later admitted in court she recorded the conversation but said Campbell had no expectation of privacy.
“I didn’t surreptitiously record anyone,” she reiterated in regards to the Molotov’s incident. “I only started recording after they threatened me. And I told them the second I started recording them.” Of course, her own video contradicts that statement. Whatever. Pass the popcorn, because this unmitigated disaster keeps getting better and better.
Thanks to a court ruling against the Federal Aviation Administration, commercial operation of drone aircraft under 400 feet is, for now, legal. So startup QuiQui is already offering deliveries of drug store purchases 24 hours a day for current beta testers at $1 per delivery. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the fun stuff like cannabis, booze, and controlled substances, just shelf items like hemorrhoid creams and pregnancy tests. So while Shotwell’s Bar won’t be facing any competition for alcoholics, the bartenders will still have to handle some drug seeking behavior.
To be clear, we're not going to be delivering marijuana. Even the medical kind. That was a misprint.
When a drone arrives at a delivery site, “your phone will buzz, saying your delivery is here,” Ziering said. “You go outside and swipe to tell it to drop your order. It will drop it and then fly away. I kind of want it to beep like Roadrunner and then fly.”
The plan is to offer deliveries in under fifteen minutes, but flight paths will be designed to avoid schools, parks and construction site fires, while inclement weather may ground the fleet at times as well according to the company’s press page. So just as Tacocopter proved too good to be true, getting your doctor recommended dose of high-CBD strains delivered to you in Dolores Park from the Apothecarium is, for now, still just a pipe dream.
You can sign up to be a beta tester by submitting your email address. Naturally, the startup is seeking investment.
At the Commonwealth Club on Thursday evening, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee spent an hour discussing the challenges facing San Francisco. Lee admitted that he’s confused as to why anyone would be critical of the private transit system set up by Google and other companies exclusively to shuttle their employees to Silicon Valley.
“I understand why those protests were [directed] at Google buses, but they didn’t make sense to me because all people were doing was trying to get to work.”
Yeah, why would working class people facing displacement from their homes and communities use the ubiquitous, largely unmarked and unregulated buses as a symbol of the transformation of San Francisco into a bedroom community run by politicians focused on serving corporate interests when it might make a handful of people a few minutes late to work? Who knows!
We’ve compiled a list of other brain teasers that Lee can contemplate when his driver is stuck in traffic between meetings with venture capitalists, technology lobbyists and real estate developers:
Not since the shutdown of Downtown Rehearsal in 2000 have things seemed so dire for San Francisco’s music scene. While there was some rebound over the last decade, and venues are doing well, the population of working musicians have decamped for Oakland and points beyond. Wednesday’s SF Weekly cover story by Ian S. Port offers some further perspective on how the flood of real estate money is drowning the small fry and even making the big fish search of eddies in shallower water. Some choice quotes:
Every community wants to have their own innate culture. Otherwise it just becomes a tourist culture.
If we leave here, we would take everything over to Oakland. Eventually it will happen. It’s inevitable.
It’s not all pessimism! There’s a lot of sincere faith that the kids are alright, and Oakland is actually pretty cool. A panel discussion will be hosted by Port at 7:30pm on Tuesday, April 1st at The Chapel. Here’s hoping it doesn’t prove to be a requiem mass.
Thanks to 2011’s JOBS Act, restrictions on foreign investment in American real estate and minimum limits on investment buy-ins were eased, effectively allowing a new class of “crowdfunded” capital campaigns for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). Previously, if you wanted to buy in to private equity investments like REITs, you had to be an accredited investor with the SEC which meant having $1 million net worth or $200,000 in income over the previous two years. Not anymore! Not only can REITs now leverage investment from more investors (up to a maximum of 2,000, up from 500), restrictions on advertising these investments to the public have also been eased.
Long story short? Now small-time investors can buy in to residential and commercial property deals for the first time. Not since online brokerages opened up the day-trading market have bankers had an opportunity to milk a public with less access to information and legal protection once things inevitably go belly-up. Except unlike the day traders (a number of whom committed suicide when the dot-bomb hit), since REITs are private equity investments they aren’t subject to the myriad financial disclosure rules that public companies are, meaning small investors have even less information on which to estimate risk.
So with $1,000 you can’t actually buy in to much actual housing for yourself in San Francisco, but you can buy in to a “Tech incubator, accelerator, shared working/living space.” Certainly this will end well! Or, as Business Insider laments:
Tycoon Real Estate is still pretty small, with just a few dozen deals available on it right now.
If it gets big and starts funneling even more capital into the San Francisco real estate market, all those people throwing rocks at Google buses and whining about rents are certainly going to come after the startup, accusing it of fueling an already dangerous bubble.
Those watching at home and playing bingo couldn’t see some of the more theatrical moments beyond reach of the cameras, like “One man in a balaclava [who] used his smartphone…to take close-up pictures of city staffers and interim Police Chief Sean Whent as they waited to speak” according to Chronicle reporter Will Kane. He reports another masked man using his public comment time to read Michel Foucault out loud, while Oakland North shared pictures of protestors with LED signs reading “SINK THE DAC.” Councilmembers buried their head in their hands and plugged their ears as the boisterous meeting dragged on.
Quan, who backed the full program but was forced to settle for the more limited proposal, was surprised by the vehement opposition but vowed to move forward. “It didn’t occur to us … that a system that would just help the existing cameras coordinate better in an emergency would become so controversial.” Similar systems, implemented with the help of federal money, exist in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Overtly intended to help first responders in emergency situations, the program and the technology behind it raised concerns that it was a stalking horse for the continuation of a “Total Information Awareness” approach to counterterrorism that would grow beyond emergency response to include surveilling local activists and policing everyday citizens. In the context of the Oakland Police Department’s ongoing struggles, the NSA’s widespread domestic surveillance, behavior prediction algorithms leveraging “big data” and mobile tracking and recording technology like smartphones and wearable technologies such as Google Glass, the audience’s fears don’t seem entirely unreasonable.
“You could say that we won on some level,” vocal opponent Dustin Craun told the Oakland Tribune’s Matthew Artz. “But I think they put their foot in the door for expanding it later.” Which? Pretty much!
“The most important thing is that at least the port security system will be there … and it will give us time to talk about privacy,” Quan assured fellow supporters. Once those rules are in place, the City Council will likely reconsider features, including the centralized video monitoring system and connections with ShotSpotter microphones for notifying and locating gunshots. “We’ll bring them back one at a time,” Quan promised.
Opponents were just as committed, and the issue could have implications for the upcoming mayor’s race, where Quan has been sliding in the polls. Popular Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who voted against the DAC, was the most popular choice for mayor in a December poll, with Quan in third. Officially Kaplan isn’t planning to run until 2018, but in the meantime Occupy Oakland veteran Jason “Shake” Anderson recently announced his candidacy with the Green Party, offering guaranteed opposition from the left to the increasingly moderate Quan.
Google Glass is ugly, expensive and, at best, semi-useful, but it’s also new, rare and exclusive, which makes it catnip to the inordinately entitled. Unfortunately, saying “no” to the inordinately entitled triggers their equally over-developed persecution complex. So after yet another Glasshole was kicked out of a local business because it made the otherwise warm, friendly folks at Grand Coffee uncomfortable, he suggested that Google start running television commercials to show how awesome Glass is so he won’t have to face “fear, uncertainty and doubt.”
Yes, Google customer Steven Mautone is asking the company to mount a major media campaign to educate the proles so that a handful of wealthy people with terrible taste won’t occasionally be excluded from social settings. Instead, what Google has done is create an etiquette guide which “Explorers” like Mautone may have read but which he seems to have trouble understanding.
For example? One of the tips is “respect others and if they have questions about Glass don’t get snappy.” Mautone originally wrote on his blog, Living Thru Glass, that “the first thing I asked [Grand Coffee’s] manager was: ‘Have you ever worn Glass? Do you know what it’s all about?’” But later, in a Google+ thread (naturally), he admitted to fellow Glassholes that “I honestly didn’t know what to say at first. My response was ‘are you serious?’” Certainly not the first time that a Glasshole has desperately tried to make themselves seem more sympathetic.
What Google’s guide doesn’t do is clarify anyone’s rights under the law. For instance, while it’s true that you are allowed to take photographs of anything that’s in plain view from a public space, including people, “When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which continues, “If you disobey the property owner’s rules, they can order you off their property (and have you arrested for trespassing if you do not comply).”
So the fine folks at Grand Coffee are completely within their rights to refuse service to Glassholes, and to call the cops if the Glasshole throws a temper tantrum.
Google also helpfully suggests that Explorers “ask for permission” before “standing alone in the corner of a room staring at people while recording them through Glass.” The fact Google has to write that down for users a year after the product was released says more about what Glassholes must be like as a class more succinctly than I ever could.
What the company doesn’t mention is that in California, standing alone in the corner of a room staring at people while recording them through Glass could land you in jail. As the Digital Media Law Project explains, “California makes it a crime to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication, including a private conversation or telephone call, without the consent of all parties to the conversation.” They continue:
If you are recording someone without their knowledge in a public or semi-public place like a street or restaurant, the person whom you’re recording may or may not have “an objectively reasonable expectation that no one is listening in or overhearing the conversation,” and the reasonableness of the expectation would depend on the particular factual circumstances. Therefore, you cannot necessarily assume that you are in the clear simply because you are in a public place.
Over at Slow News Day, Beth Spotswood asks “is there a line when it’s cool and when it’s not?” Well, recording people at a business with a stated policy banning photography, such as at the Zeitgeist, could provide such “an objectively reasonable expectation” that they won’t be subject to electronic eavesdropping. Or maybe not! So no, there is no bright line as my lawyer friend would say. It’s decided on a case-by-case basis, so pushing the issue could take you from creepy to court proceedings faster than you can say “Glass, search for criminal defense attorneys.”
In the aforementioned Google+ thread, Mautone’s fellow Glasshole Stephen Cerutti has already suggested that someone create an app to track businesses that don’t allow patrons wearing devices on their face capable of secretly recording employees and customers. And by “someone,” I have to presume he means “someone else,” because did I mention inordinately entitled?