Google Glass wearer attacked in San Francisco
and accused of "killing" the city

| 57 comments

Sarah Slocum Google Glass

News: a woman has been attacked in a San Francisco bar for wearing Google Glass, in the latest conflict amid increasing tension between the city's residents and the tech giants who have based their headquarters in the area.

Social media consultant Sarah Slocum was wearing a Google Glass head-mounted computer at Molotov's bar in the Lower Haight neighbourhood when the incident occurred at the end of last month. The attack came to international attention this weekend as a symbol of the division in San Francisco over being the epicentre of the internet age, with one of the aggressors accusing Slocum of "killing this city".

As one of the Google Glass Explorers tasked with testing and promoting the device for Google's development team, Slocum was showing its features to people in the bar when others became agitated by the gadget’s presence.

"A few minutes later, they cursed at me," Slocum told journalists after the incident. "I started feeling threatened. At that point I decided I was going to turn on the camera and start recording this hateful, threatening behaviour."

Slocum explained that a man then pulled the device off her face and ran out of the bar. The consultant pursued and managed to recover the headset, which she had used to record what was happening.

"What makes this story special," Slocum wrote on her Facebook page, "is that no one has experienced a hate crime or been targeted for a hate crime, which is what it was, for wearing Google Glass."

 Google Glass headset
The Google Glass headset

The news follows a spate of other incidents in San Francisco where residents have targeted Google and other tech companies in an anti-technology backlash against Silicon Valley corporations.

The city has experienced huge rent increases as a result of large numbers of the 44,000 employees of tech firms, based 30 miles away in Silicon Valley, choosing to live in San Francisco. Rental prices rose between 10 and 135 percent over the past year in San Francisco's various neighbourhoods, according to a report by the London Review of Books.

Another topic of contention is the use of private buses to transport employees from the city out to company campuses in Silicon Valley. Known collectively as Google buses, residents say their presence has lead to increased congestion and starved local public transport of a much-needed revenue stream.

According to city planner Alexandra Goldman, rental prices within walking distance of Google bus stops are rising up to 20 percent faster than the rental prices outside the walkable distance.

As a result, there have been a number of protests against use of the buses in the city. In December last year, a window of a Google bus was smashed by protestors holding a sign saying, "F*ck off Google".

Tech tenants are putting pressure on commercial leasing in San Francisco itself, with companies like Airbnb, Pinterest and Twitter filling nearly a quarter of the city's available office square footage.

Shops and restaurants in San Francisco have also begun banning the use of Google Glass as the technology can be used to record and live-stream video footage.

  • Steve

    I do not see how she was attacked. “Slocum explained that a man then pulled the device off her face and ran out of the bar.” It seems to me that someone stole the glasses. There is a big difference between being attacked and having something stolen. You should really change the title of this article.

    • Archie Ferguson

      I think if the theft involves ripping a device off someone’s face, the physical aggression makes it an attack.

      • Karl Schneider

        Verbal alone can be considered an attack.

    • Lullylux

      I agree, this title seems sensationalist and inaccurate.

    • olof

      Yep. Sounds like a case of mugging/snatch being painted as a socially motivated rant.

    • Jorel

      Reading comp in America is horrible. It says she was verbally attacked so she began to record the incident. Upon recording the incident the guy went over, snatched it from her head and ran.

  • Tim

    Having your stuff stolen is an attack.

  • Lullylux

    I also think that tech giants are killing Bay Area’s way of life.

    • Roy

      Which is? Culture / demographics are always shifting and changing, sometimes it’s abrupt.

  • digitalmarley

    I own a Google Glass, and you know what? I’ve never worn it in public or whipped it out at a bar for two specific reasons:

    1) I don’t want to be robbed

    2) be ridiculed by friends or strangers.

    Frankly this lady was either showing off to her friends or completely comfortable with her nerdyness. Drunk people at the bar noticed her showing off, and starting heckling her, just like any good and drunk bar patron should. Someone then tried to grab and go with the $1500 gadget, which is not surprising at all.

    She’s lucky she even got the thing back but lesson learned, don’t show off a gadget that’s worth more than most peoples monthly pay check in a bar full of drunks. I don’t think this is a backlash against tech giants in SF, because they’ve been there all along. It’s a backlash against rich nerds showing off their pricey status symbols.

    Rents going up because rents always goes up, when’s the last time your rent went down in any city? Do we blame all the daily cell phone robberies on the bus or train on cyber-gentrification? No, we blame it on ditzy girls holding their expensive cell phones in their hands, waving them obnoxiously in the air while riding public transportation through sketchy neighbourhoods with no concept of safety and being street smart. I see it every day, might as well wear a sign that says “please rob me”.

    • Examan

      Come to Quebec, where rent and property values are constantly going down because of our crappy, corrupt separatist governments.

    • JC

      I get the point you are trying to make, but I don’t agree with it at all.

      What you are saying is getting robbed is something that SHOULD happen, and no, it shouldn’t.

      Why should people get robbed when they have something expensive on them?

      So in your world no one should bring their phone out otherwise they should get robbed, can’t bring the laptop out either, oh and probably shouldn’t put money in the wallet because people should rob you.

      Why don’t you say oh don’t even buy anything expensive, because someone will break into your house and steal it, and they should – because you are rich.

    • blobface

      The only difference is that it’s on someone’s face, which is probably a good thing, as someone trying to rob you would remove punching you in the face off the list of tactics, as it might damage the very thing he/she is attacking you for.

      Most people’s phones are worth a good percentage of most people’s salary, most luxury watches and handbags are worth more than the Google glasses, but it’s up to the individual to wear things that’s appropriate for where they are, which for most people that live in the cities, it probably means Google glass would be extremely useful for looking up information about stuff when on the toilet, it’s safe and it frees up your hands for doing other things, like, looking at your phone.

  • Bill Dodge

    Is this not the same story that was circulated some weeks ago?

    • seimow

      Yes it is. It think I have seen it on failblog. Really surprised to find it here now.

    • Karl Schneider

      But now it is an ATTACK! Technically I guess it is. However, if someone doesn’t like you possibly filming them without their knowledge and then you decide to deliberately start doing so…

  • blue

    I think someone needs to “Google” what a hate crime is before they speak next time.

    • J. Cameron McClain

      Exactly. She did herself no favours with that.

  • Anton LaVey, Jr.

    SF natives are just fed up with the deluge of hi-salary professionals invading their community, and making it too expensive to live in. Pre-tech boom SF residents just want to live a simple life with a homegrown-diverse culture, and free artistic creativity. $adly, the innovations and “cool new things” Google, Facebook, and Twitter yuppies are brining into this historically free minded city don’t figure into the lives of long time residents.

    Although, as with many booms in California there comes a bust, and these hi-tech professionals will leave when SF is no longer trending. That’s when I plan to move back.

    • Romain_M

      If it weren’t for yuppie culture, movements like the Young British Artists would have never been able to take off.

    • Morgan

      Those “natives” don’t have any more right to steer the future of the city than the newcomers do. It’s a free country.

    • not a glass fan

      Sounds to me like these “free thinking sanfransicinites” are trying to squash creativity and put down the people trying to make new creative things like a bunch witch hunters.

      People are always afraid of things they don’t understand. It also seems like the finger is being pointed in the wrong direction. How about picketing and harassing the greedy land owners that are raising the rent in the first place? Nothing actually changes as a result of wealthy people moving into your neighbourhood.

      All that happens is the landlords get greedy and raise the rent because they think they can get more for their apartments.

    • dra6o0n

      They should live in rural towns if they hate tech. To hate tech and innovations is to stifle creativity, the same creativity they believe in from artists and the like.

  • Will Stalker

    Not a hate crime.

  • Tyler

    First, wearing Google Glass to Molotov’s is just asking for it. Really bad idea. It’s one of the two remaining dive bars in the Lower Haight, and bougie techies are devouring that neighbourhood.

    Second, do NOT underestimate the insane rental market in SF. My 675 sq.ft. 1 bedroom that cost $1700/month in 2005 is now on the market for $3000/month. The same apartment. (3 blocks from Molotov’s, by the way) It’s ridiculous.

  • bonsaiman

    Gee, she looks awesome with that thing on (NOT).

  • pcb1938

    Seems to me that in the US, one needs to have a concealed carry permit to defend the freedom of what to wear and when. The “Archie Bunker” types are rapidly taking control. And no, I’m not a gun advocate. But there are times when Big Brotherism goes just a little too far. And sadly we are rapidly following suit in Canada, and they all but took away our guns here.

  • Morgan

    All this hating on Google buses and renters smacks of envy. If not for those buses then people would be driving cars; which would congest traffic way more, on top of the increased pollution.

    I guess being a green lefty in San Francisco is complicated.

  • bloodyblue

    A hate crime. really? She is using this to get press and honestly I think those devices are a major invasion of privacy seeing as you can be recorded without any indication at all.

    At least with a phone you can see someone aiming it at you. i am going to go on record. People that wear this device are not my kind of people. If that makes me bigoted against people who like to look at the world through a computer lens then so be it.

    • san

      I agree these are a major invasion of privacy. Since the governments are spying on computers and phones, you can be sure they will be able to use these to. There are more than enough cameras everywhere in my opinion.

  • Adrian

    I’m not entirely sure why she thinks this is a hate crime? How was the crime motivated by prejudice?

  • Niall

    “No one has experienced a hate crime or been targeted for a hate crime, which is what it was, for wearing Google Glass.”

    Someone should inform this unfortunate woman that hate crimes are perpetrated against people because of their inherent characteristics such as race, nationality, sexual orientation – things you can’t take off your face.

  • Pierre

    I like it that shops and restaurants have begun banning those things. Maybe someone should come up with a ‘no Goolge glass’ sign, like the ‘no smoking’ one.

  • Rojo99

    “Social media consultant”. Says it all, really.

  • olof

    I would NEVER condone a physical attack, on the other hand.

  • devo1d

    Google Glass free zones, especially in some establishments, is the way to go.

  • Derek_V

    People complaining about a Google Glass wearer being inconsiderate by surveilling people is now a hate crime? Yeah right.

  • KevinTimmons

    I totally agree that this has moved on from being against being recorded to the income equality issue that is lingering in Frisco. It’s too bad, I understand that there are huge issues in the area, with rent and home ownership increasing at an exponential rate, and honestly I think there needs to be something done, but acting out in ways that paint your movement as violent will not help the cause.

    Laws need to be changed, but I think if you want the attention that you deserve, you must act with a little class.

  • mazi

    Hate crime against the 1%? Versus the hate crimes the 1% committed against the other 99%?

  • Ned Ludd

    Disruptive technology vs. disruptive neo-luddites. What better place to start the battle than San Francisco. I think we’ll hear the sound of breaking glass in other cities soon.

  • SanFrancisco_Design_Native

    Sorry, for it to be a hate crime one must be in a “protected class”. I don’t think that ‘affluent Google consultant’ or ‘avid internet user’ qualifies.

    Things are getting a bit out of hand here in San Francisco but not b/c google glass wearers are being messed with, but the population is being homogenised into just tech people.

    I am a young architecture grad, it is ridiculously expensive and just kind of uninteresting. Sorry Google, but if you are going to push all the artists, musicians, writers and designers out, all you will have is a boring city with good wifi. ENJOY!

    Or better yet, use all the money you are making to finance interesting architecture projects.

  • ryan

    Wow, she called this a ‘hate crime’. She should be forced to apologise for that.

  • Robert Gerhart

    Oh Christ, a hate crime? Really? I’ve never seen a love crime. This is a scam. She’s a “social media consultant,” and what has she done? Staged or baited a situation that she’s used in order to gain attention on social media. Connect the dots, people.

  • e17jack

    I saw someone wearing Google glass on the tube in London last week. My immediate reaction was a surge of anger at seeing this invasive piece of technology in real life.

    I was surprised at how incredibly uneasy I felt. I do not see how the normalisation of turning average people into walking video cameras can be considered by anyone as a positive step.

    If someone walks into a room full of strangers or along the street holding a video camera in front of them they would expect to be questioned, ridiculed, and regarded as overstepping a line of privacy.

    I seriously hope that governments around the world legislate to keep this technology out of everyday life.

    • JaumaCatalan

      I agree 100%

  • Eric B.

    This article fails to mention that the woman assured bar revellers she was *not* recording them. But she, in fact, was doing so (as seen in the video she took, where you can actually hear her make those false assurances).

    Would you walk into a bar with a video camera on and pan it randomly around the room?

  • http://j9sopinion.tumblr.com/ Jeanine H

    Another reason they are just NOT for me! Wearer or watcher, I’m not comfortable with any of it. Nothing to hide, doesn’t mean I want my life publicised. NO thanks Google. This is ridiculous though, I’d never fight someone or “rip them off their face” Hello!? I feel an assault charge coming on. Besides, I wouldn’t want to break them “ripping them off” someones face because I think they’re nonsense.

  • Audeamus

    Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and use it constantly, However, aside from the sensationalism here on all sides, including the clueless wearer, GG is invasive, scary, and symbolic of the rise of the technocracy, with its overpriced workers and their effect on this city so many love. If I were in a bar in SF nursing a few drinks and some understandable grudges, and wondering if I could continue to afford to live here, and some overpaid noob walked in nattering away about this “awesome” piece of plastic, steel, and glass, I’d feel like pulling it off and throwing it into the street too. Not sure I actually would do that, but I sure understand the impulse.

  • Chris Stratton

    “The city has experienced huge rent increases as a result of large numbers of the 44,000 employees of tech firms, based 30 miles away in Silicon Valley, choosing to live in San Francisco.”

    No, the city has experienced huge rent increases because it’s one of the most desirable cities to live in (demand = high), but has a huge housing shortage (supply = low). Why is supply so low? Yes, there isn’t much land left to develop on, but the biggest reason is because those same people who revolt because of high rent, continue to oppose development that would add more housing. It’s supply and demand and the people facing the consequences for low supply continue voting for/promoting policies that continue to limit the supply.

  • Chris

    This device has some great applications. That said, wearing it out in such a venue is most definitely obnoxious. I would refuse to go out to a restaurant, bar, theatre, etc.. with any person(s) wearing this device. If I was in such an environment with someone wearing this, I would complain to or question the management about their policy of having their patrons recorded. If necessary, I would leave.

  • jaybee

    She hassles people at a bar. Someone yells an insult, and her friend starts throwing punches. Only then was she “attacked”, but the insults and the violence started with her. Please stop attacking San Francisco by echoing this fake journalist’s fake story.

  • Bubba Smith

    I agree. Yours is the first public comment that actually address the root issue here: the people charging rent and evicting people. Someone is making money and it’s not the people who are getting gouged on their rent, which is everyone here.

  • Joey

    Watch this and see if it helps: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7hfibCOq5E

  • digitalmarley

    Of course it SHOULDN’T happen…but that doesn’t change the realities of living in a large urban area. Sorry, but if you whip out a laptop, or Google Glass for no other reason but to show off to your friends, then you risk it being stolen. Doesn’t matter what you think should happen, crime in a large city is reality.

    I hope your ‘good faith’ cell phone protection plan protects you from the people that don’t give a crap about idealism. I’m going to assume you don’t live in a place where you have to worry about any of this?

  • greedkills

    You sir, are a liar. There is a notification light on the device that will inform you it is actively recording. Flagged comment for intentionally misleading content.

  • Eric B.
  • VPQ