Google Glass: The Price of American Luxuries (Part 2 of 2)

 
Click here to read Part 1 of Google Glass.
 
Google Glass

After last week’s demonstration of Google Glass, members in the audience asked questions. Most of their questions and comments were about its functionality and the benefits it could bring to technology and education.  A lady’s comment about the glasses has been on my mind ever since. She asked, “What about the people in countries such as India who are paid below minimum wage and work enormous hours a day in factories to create such products? This is an American luxury. Should America be held responsible or play a greater role in the communities where these products are made?” She went on to explain that in many instances, the workers  in American factories that are overseas live with less than the bare essentials. It is her belief that these people are used at the expense of wealthy Americans. Her comment inspired me to search a bit more about the product. The glasses are being assembled by Foxconn, the same company that assembles Apple products. The company is based in China and has recently caught attention for its harsh working conditions and suicide rates among workers. However, these glasses will be assembled by a Foxxcon subunit based in America. I also found out that a group of engineers disassembled the glasses and priced each of the components. They estimated that it costs no more than $86 to make a pair of the hi-tech glasses. So why the $1500 price tag?

I mentioned the glasses and the lady’s comment to my Dad.  (My dad is one of my philosophical sounding boards). I told him that the lady’s comment struck a chord with me. He took a long puff of his cigarette and said three words that left me even more mentally boggled. “They can refuse.” Sensing my confusion, he elaborated, “They can refuse. They can choose not to work there.” What he said was so simple yet so profound. People constantly complain about American factories in third world countries because of the working conditions and the pay. As my dad suggested, can’t they refuse to work there? Is anyone forcing them to work at such jobs? As little as those jobs may pay, I am led to believe that the benefits of working there outweigh that of other job options in their country. If the workers truly saw American factories as degrading, wouldn’t they protest and choose not to work there? As a result, factory owners would be forced to either relocate where there is an available workforce or improve the working conditions.

After a few days of contemplating the situation, I am still not sure what the best solution might be. However, I am left with two questions: (1) Is the solution actually as simple as refusing to work at such places?  (2) Should Americans feel guilty or slightly responsible for the luxury products we buy at outrageous prices that provide meager work for others?

If you enjoyed this article, please use the buttons below to share it with someone else who you think will also enjoy it. 
 
Follow me:
Twitter: @_MissOnAMission
Instagram: www.instagram.com/Miss_OnA_Mission
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JacquelineYSamuel

Google Glass: The Price Of American Luxuries (Part 1 of 2)

Google Glass

While at a conference last week, I had the opportunity to see one of the developers for Google give a demonstration about Google Glass. I had never heard of it, but within minutes my mouth was wide open in amazement. Before the end of the presentation, I had already searched for the website, watched a video about the product, and inquired about purchasing it. I wanted it and for a brief moment, I didn’t care how much it cost.

Google Glass allows you to capture video or snap a picture of what you see. It can display turn-by-turn directions in the lens of your glasses, search and display images, and allow video chat with friends…all by voice command. If you haven’t seen it before, here is the company’s video about it.

Unfortunately, all my excitement about possibly purchasing a pair was shot down when the website said the demand is extremely high and that they are taking applications for potential buyers. A quick search on the web said the price was around $1,500. Instantly, my excitement went from “I must have a pair now…at any cost” to “I’ll wait. They’ll have to come down off the price eventually.”

So now, waiting for the situations surrounding its full release is comparable to the excitement of waiting for the release of the next iPhone. I guess the two biggest questions are: (1) When do they become available for nationwide purchase? (2) How far will they drop the price because $1500 is ludicrous?

For all you tech lovers here are a couple of sites for you to check out:
Every one’s favorite site for information, Wikipedia article on Google Glass
An interview Joshua Topolsky conducted with two Google Glass creators. 
Cnet Review of Google Glass 
 
If you enjoyed this article, please use the buttons below to share it with someone else who you think will also enjoy it. 
 
Follow me:
Twitter: @_MissOnAMission
Instagram: www.instagram.com/Miss_OnA_Mission
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JacquelineYSamuel

The Blessings and Evils of Technology

Are we better off with technology?

20130609-172501.jpg
My cohorts of teachers, and our gadgets, as we discuss education in Indonesia.

20130609-172627.jpg

Is his journey through this life any less valuable or bring any less joy because he does not have technology (man from Papua, one of the least developed provinces of Indonesia)?

Imagine a remote village in a small part of a foreign country. The people are deeply rooted in their culture and traditions. They do not have any of the luxuries of modern society, nor do they know of them. They live in simple huts and cook in clay pots over an open fire. They hunt, grow, and barter for everything they need. Do you think these people would be just as happy as everyone else in the world?

What if one of the young adults from the remote village travels to a larger city. They see machinery creating products at a rapid rate. They see a tv broadcasting the national news for the first time. They also interact with a person who has a smartphone. Because of these simple exposures, that individual will not return to the village as the same person who left. They will never look at their day-to-day living the same.

Events such as these are occurring all around the world and I am learning first hand how technology influences the Indonesian culture and way of life. Because of technology, their society is not as it was 20 yrs ago. Indonesians are noticing that many of their most sacred and historical traditions are being diluted. Some Indonesians are expressing fear because young adults are heading to cities such as Jakarta and have no interest in returning to their small villages. The foundations of much of their unique culture remains in the hands of their elders who are dying. As a result, their traditions are changing or may not exist 20 or more years from now.

Many of the school systems in Jakarta still have the values that most American teachers dream of. Here, students and parents show teachers the upmost respect. Teachers are addressed as bapak or ubi, the equalivent of sir and madam. Each morning, students greet their teacher with a kiss on the hand and the student then places the teacher’s hand to their forehead to adorn them with reverence. Students do not misbehave in class. They do not interrupt the teacher while he or she is talking. It is an insult to correct the teacher if a mistake is made. But, as students are gaining more access to technology, even the school traditions are slowing fading. One of the principals of a Muslim school here in Jakarta has had students ask if they can be like Lady Gaga when they grow up.

Many see influences such as these as the evils of technology, mostly originating from Western Civilizations. On the other hand, they also recognize that it is good for communities to have a tool that allows them to have a two-way conversation with the rest of the world. Access to technology has allowed Americans to learn more about Indonesia other than the fact that President Obama lived there. It allows Indonesians to know there is more to America than Hollywood and wars. But we have to ask, at what point does the influence of technology overshadow what’s really important in life: family, friends, traditions, quality time, and personal growth? At what point is technology such a necessity that any village without is still considered to be living in the dark ages? And then you have to ask yourself, is technology really needed? If your answer is no, I challenge you to go 24 hours without using it and let me know how it goes. 🙂

If you enjoyed this article, please use the buttons below to share it with someone else who you think will also enjoy it. Thanks!
Follow me:
Twitter: @_MissOnAMission
Instagram: www.instagram.com/Miss_OnA_Mission
Facebook: www.facebook.com/JacquelineYSamuel