Charcoal, shale, cotton, tangerine, sky

sky

Those, I hear, are the official names of the colors that Google Glass will come in when the head-mounted computer is released, sometime in the next year or so, into what Larry Page this week called “the normal world.” Let me repeat those color names, because they’re beautiful and earthy and soothing:

Charcoal

Shale

Cotton

Tangerine

Sky

“More delicate than the historians’ are the map-makers’ colors,” wrote Elizabeth Bishop, and more delicate still are the marketers’.

It’s hard not to be reminded of the palette of the third generation of iMacs, released back in 2000:

Graphite

Indigo

Ruby

Sage

Snow

The Glass palette strikes me as even better, even more evocative. It may even surpass Simon & Garfunkel’s great herbal palette:

Parsley

Sage

Rosemary

Thyme

That’s a little too green-centric for a product line, anyway.

It does worry me just a little bit, though, that the Glass palette eschews green altogether. Is that a political statement? In fact, now that I think about it, the Glass palette places a disconcerting emphasis on fossil fuels. Charcoal? Shale? One can almost smell the carbon dioxide rising into Sky, almost see Cotton and Tangerine wilting in the heat. Maybe they should have included Tar Sands as a color option.

No, that would have been a downer. “Charcoal” has a much nicer lilt to it. Its emotional connotations diverge from its real-world denotations, in a way that nicely underscores both the semiotic and the marketing possibilities of reality augmentation.

What would be really cool is if the color of your Glass also determined the way the device augmented your reality. So if you wore Charcoal, you’d get this dark, goth view of the world, but if you sported Tangerine it would be like seeing existence through the eyes of a high-school cheerleader on game day. Cotton would put you into a super-mellow, slightly catatonic state of mind. Sky would give you a New Age perspective — all crystalline and feathery. Shale would be totally businesslike, the Joe Friday reality.

As for me, I’m going to hold out for Mushroom.

7 Comments

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7 Responses to Charcoal, shale, cotton, tangerine, sky

  1. Cindy Wolff

    I think they should work on a model that changes colors, like mood Glass.

  2. Tom Panelas

    You hippie! They’re obviously forsaking the Bill McKibben market segment.

  3. CS Clark

    I suppose ‘Rose’ would have been a bit too on the nose.

  4. mle

    Simon & Garfunkel’s voices, yes, but not their creation. Short time horizons — they’ll save us from panic while we push on to the Seneca cliff.

  5. Hi Nicholas,
    This is off topic to your post above , but I couldn’t find a place to e-mail you.
    (I don’t even want to get started on google glasses. . .)
    I just wanted to give you this link to today’s LA times article which is about Irvine but which has a thread where we are discussing libraries and reading and some points you wrote about in The Shallows.
    http://discussions.latimes.com/20/lanews/la-me-0523-irvine-growth-20130523/10

  6. anon

    “Shale? One can almost smell the carbon dioxide rising into Sky, almost see Cotton and Tangerine wilting in the heat. Maybe they should have included Tar Sands as a color option.”

    Brilliant. Here’s hoping Google actually helps the world get serious about decarbonization.