Phenomenological question of the day: Invisible blind spot?

Google Glass, researchers have reported, creates a (physical, optical, literal) blind spot on the right-hand side of a wearer’s peripheral vision. I guess this is where that tiny frame-chunk is situated.

A very nice example, I would say (following Gadamer), of technological Umwelt (surroundings) being substituted for, and denuding, phenomenological Welt (world). Peripheral vision is a pretty neat, liminal, mercurial capacity that we all have and know how to deploy, just by virtue of our being the creatures that we are. We don’t really know how to know how to use our peripheral vision, precisely because it is just at the edge–it defines the edge–of our capacities in this area. And yet, use it, and know how to use it, we do. Glass, willy-nilly, makes all this evident–precisely by monkeywrenching our liminal capacity. Only in having no more peripheral vision do we say damn I’m supposed to have that strange thing, peripheral vision. At the same time, our Glass-mediated vision, sans peripherality, is supposed to be “better” than vision as such. And this because of the wondrous functionalities of Glass.

Anyway, Google will say–as technology ALWAYS says!–we can fix this problem. We can just tweak the camera to capture the right-side peripheral area, streaming those images constantly back to the right-hand periphery of each wearer’s visual field. Trust us. You won’t even notice the difference.

Let’s say they’re right.

Is there still a difference?

Author: JD Fleming

I am Professor of English Literature at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC. My work is in intellectual history of the early-modern period (1500-1700), with a special interest in epistemic issues around the emergence of modern natural science (the "Scientific Revolution"). In 2012, I initiated the international conference series "Scientiae: Disciplines of Knowing in the Early Modern World."

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