In this week’s New Yorker, Gary Shteyngart chronicles his adventures wearing Google Glass. Russian émigré novelist Mr. Shteyngart is a prime candidate to pioneer the technology. After all, his last book, Super Sad True Love Story, foretold a near-future that was eerily prescient.
Mr. Shteyngart envisioned a device called an äppärät, which was basically an even more powerful smartphone, that constantly beamed a stream of information and data to the characters. But in early drafts, Mr. Shteyngart was even more ahead of the curve.
He had conceived something more akin to … well, Google Glass.
“The first drafts of Super Sad had a technology called The Eye, which was basically an äppärät inside a contact lens,” Mr. Shteyngart wrote in The New Yorker. But his editor nixed it. “My editor suggested that it was a little much, and it certainly was in 2008, at a time when even the first iterations of the iPhone seemed like they were beamed back to our world from some glorious future civilization in Cupertino. By 2013, having a miniature screen above my right eye tell me all about ‘Ashton Kutcher’s new job’ feels about right.”
Mr. Shteynhart won the chance to debut Google Glass, and write about it for The New Yorker in the most new-media way possible: He won a contest on Twitter.
“On February 23, 2013, I entered a Twitter contest run by Google to pick the first batch of Glass Explorers with the following tweet: ‘#ifihadglass I could dream up new ideas for the TV adaptation of my novel Super Sad True Love Story.’” A month later, the writer was invited to try out a pair of Google Glass, although he had to pay $1500 (plus New York State tax) for the opportunity.
Good thing that author had sold the film and television rights for the book (the studio paid). And The New Yorker got to run an essay.
Someone like Google or Apple should really put Mr. Shteyngart on retainer. Who knows what other new devices he has thought up for the near future.