Google activists try to sabotage Google Glass auction

A student wins in the Google #IfIHadGlass competition and tries to sell his glasses on eBay. He meets with opposition. He says he just wanted to pay off his student loans.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read
Clearly with transparent restrictions. Google Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Since Google announced the names of those who would get the first exemplars of Google Glass, I have been barely able to focus for wondering what Newt Gingrich is doing with his.

I await his new and vital perspective on Washington with rapt excitement.

However, others have resorted to more mundane activities, posting their little Google Glass movies for all to see (and so all can feel their eyes glaze over).

Perhaps the most mundane activity to which some have resorted is to try and make money out of their gadgets.

Before the winners of #IfIHadGlass were even announced, one gentleman went on eBay and attracted bids of up to $15,000. Yes, for glasses he didn't even have.

Now someone who was rewarded with Google Explorer status has also tried to make money out of his glasses. And, sadly, failed.

As Marketplace reports, a student called Ed (you'll see very soon why he didn't want to reveal his whole name) went on eBay and offered up his prized new gadget.

His motivation, he says, was quite simple: he wanted to pay off his student loans. Given that, these days, some student loans are more expensive than some houses, his keenness to perhaps break even is understandable.

For a very brief moment, he must have felt quite excited when one bidder offered $95,000.

Ed didn't imagine, however, that the company that embraces openness as if it were a believable religion would put strictures on Google Glass usage. If owners try to resell or even lend their glasses to someone else, Google may simply cause the product to seize up.

Yes, Google is able to throw a remote brick through your lenses -- though some informed sources suggest the company has no intention of doing so.

Openness has a very interesting definition on occasion. As does fandom. For what some might find moving is that it was Google fanboys who actively tried to ensure that Ed's auction wouldn't succeed.

He ended up withdrawing it. He told Marketplace he was "sick of being harassed by Google enthusiasts." Who knew that Googlies could be so aggressive?

Marketplace quotes Kevin Dietz, a student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who confessed he had gone to an online group for Glass Explorers and featured a link to Ed's auction. The idea, it seems, was to artificially raise the price to such a degree that the auction would become meaningless.

"The reason why I posted it in the first place was to prevent the auction from completing. The whole idea of being a part of the Explorer program is not about getting Google Glass or turning a profit. It's about being on the cutting edge, and this person clearly doesn't care about that," he said.

Some might find this idealism touching, in a world so twisted. Some might wonder how Gingrich, Soulja Boy -- and a host of other famous, cutting-edge names who are also alleged Explorers -- fit into this purity.

Others might wonder that there is greater enthusiasm on the part of Google fanpersons for preventing personal profit than for preventing Google from following every step, breath, and sneeze of your life.

Google is neither the first nor the last company to sell you a gadget and put restrictions on how you can use it. Given that one restriction placed on developers is that they can't put ads on their Google Glass, one can be sure that the profit motive is nuzzling closely to the cheek of technical innovation here.

A Google representative explained the company's side to me: "The Explorer program is all about taking Glass out in the world and seeing what's possible with the technology, and we hope our Explorers are going to be excited to do so themselves."

Naturally, this hides many nuances as to the real (and perhaps commercial) purposes why Google would want only its chosen people to use Google Glass.

Freedom has always been a relative term. Why be surprised that the word "open" is relative too?