Why I think wearable tech is for creeps

By Milo Yiannopoulos on April 25th, 2014

I return from a brief hiatus to discover that Nike is withdrawing its FuelBand from sale, and that Google Glass, having previously been hawked strictly by application, is now available to anyone with $1,500 to spare. What a humiliating climbdown for the brave new world of “wearable technology.”

Why is this happening? Well, first of all, the watches, headsets and assorted wearable paraphernalia released to the public so far are desperately unappealing. Ugly as all hell, in fact, as I put it last night when asked to speak to Sky News about this predictable industry failure.

Second, they are probably the creepiest set of products ever to come out of Silicon Valley—which is saying something.

That’s why celebrities have been reluctant to endorse them or be seen with them in public: They are too odd to appeal to normal people. I’ve got nothing against geeks, with their radical transparency agendas and horrible dress sense, but here in the real world being a geek is not and never will be cool. Sorry, but it’s true.

My own view is that wearable technology as a product category is already dead, and that we’ll leapfrog straight to technological implants in our bodies. That’s not as far-fetched as it sounds: Tradesmen are already implanting magnets in their fingertips to help them detect electromagnetic fields.

And there’s work being done on minuscule chips that can be implanted in the wrist or between two fingers to unlock doors and authorise payments. There’s something fabulously futuristic about implants that a heavy, awkward pair of Wi-Fi spectacles simply can’t touch.

So hideously weird are Google’s glasses that there’s even a name for people with the lack of manners and taste it takes to sport them: “glassholes.” And geeks who venture onto the street wearing Glass are being routinely assaulted by members of the public.

What’s mystifying are not the assaults but the brains of people who think it’s OK to wear surveillance cameras on their faces as they go about their daily lives. I hate to be rude, but is there something a bit… wrong with these people?

Leaving your office with a camera strapped to your face that could, at any moment, be secretly photographing women on the subway, or taking covert footage of private citizens, is a grotesque social provocation.

No civilised person would condone theft or physical assault, but I reckon most regular punters would agree that these glasshole provocateurs are getting exactly what they deserve.

As for fancy smart watches… give me a break. Who in their right mind wants a blinking, beeping reminder of their inbox strapped to their wrist? If I were a betting man I would wager that Apple’s rumoured iWatch, the company’s first major post-Jobs product, will be just as much of a flop as Google Glass.

Bring on the implants, I say—and ditch the spooky peculiarity of Google’s nerd specs.

My last column provoked some strong reactions. Many readers felt that my approach to tracking friendships was—how should I put it?—a bit eccentric. But others recognised the benefits of a more comprehensive system of contact measurement and maintenance, and wondered whether the idea could be implemented in a more user-friendly way: Namely, as a smartphone app.

I have given my blessing to brothers Brent and Matt Bucci, entrepreneurs from San Francisco who got in touch with me, to build a prototype. The Bucci brothers are insisting on calling the app Milo, despite my fierce protestations. We’ll keep you posted on progress.

I finally get it. At last, I understand what my colleagues are banging on about when they say they can’t live without caffeine. This month I’ve been on DEFCON 1, thanks to Pact, a London-based subscription coffee startup whose ultra-fresh grounds are just the thing for over-worked creatives.

I started my coffee odyssey mocking another U.K. company on Twitter for its overzealous environmentalism, but after receiving Cru’s recyclable pods (almost as delicious as Pact’s grounds), I am now helplessly in thrall to the coffee press and Nespresso machine. Anxiety and insomnia be damned: I’ve never been this productive in my life.

It was Earth Day on Wednesday, a dull festival of smugness that does absolutely nothing for the planet but makes a lot of middle-class people feel good about themselves. (You can tell pointless campaigns because they use “raising awareness” in place of any productive raison d’être.)

I celebrated as I always do, by turning on every light and radiator in the house, boiling the kettle repeatedly, making toast I didn’t want and leaving the oven set to 250°C all day.

I’m not sure that’s quite what Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he said a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, but boy did it take my mind off all that bossy finger-wagging on the Internet.

The London tech scene and Prince Andrew: a marriage made in heaven? One is an irritating, bloated, taxpayer-subsidised orgy of self-regard, of no practical use to anyone. The other is… well, you get the idea. It takes a special sort of insecurity—or ignorance, perhaps—to suck up to the sleaziest member of the British Royal Family in so cringeworthy a fashion. But of course Tech City is doing it with gusto.

Normally, founders, VCs and their blogging cheerleaders would describe themselves as ideological republicans. But notice how quickly their spots change on receipt of an SW1-postmarked envelope. The promise of a few cucumber sandwiches at the Palace and it’s as if the cult of “disruption” and “sticking it to the Establishment” never existed.

Widely ridiculed and in editorial crisis, last year technology news site PandoDaily bought NSFWCORP, a ballsy but struggling magazine founded by my old friend Paul Carr. It was a strange acquisition: Pando was considered an exhaust valve for vested interests in Silicon Valley—including its own investors—while NSFWCORP had nothing obviously to do with tech, and a reputation for biting the hands that fed it.

But, with the addition of Carr and his writers, quality at Pando has skyrocketed and the exclusives are coming thick and fast. The site’s coverage still suffers from two grating faults: Everything is too long, and everything is absurdly self-congratulatory. (Pando’s scoop about Indiegogo is shocking, but Watergate it ain’t: See our own Rob Price for a summary of the story at saner length.)

But the site looks set to achieve the most remarkable about-face since the last time John Kerry grabbed a mic. You should tune in.

I’m a fan of OkCupid’s data blog, which reveals sexual insights from the site’s gigantic database. Recently, the blog revealed an interesting relationship between masturbation and Twitter addiction.

If I’m reading the data right, OkCupid says that people aged 18-24 who use Twitter every day are only 50 percent likely to have masturbated on any given day of the week. Casual or non-users jerk off more frequently: Something like 70 percent of them have masturbated on any given day.

In other words, people who spend all day on Twitter are less likely to be wankers. No offence, but I think we all know that’s not true.

Milo Yiannopoulos is the founder and former Editor-in-Chief of The Kernel. His first book, The Sociopaths of Silicon Valley, will be published in 2015