Good and Ugly: Google Promotes Indoor Maps and ‘Preferred Pronouns’ With ‘Ze/Hir’ Nametags

  1. Home
  2. Tech
By Ian Miles Cheong | 4:06 pm, May 17, 2017

At Google IO 2017 event today, the company unveiled new technologies that are set to revolutionize navigation and virtual reality. No kidding—Google introduced something called Visual Positioning Service (VPS), which allows for indoor mapping. With its myriad uses, you’ll never get lost in a department store ever again, and game developers can use it to map out real-world environments. It may even be of use to police officers and soldiers who can use it to map out floor layouts.

In addition to unveiling VPS, the company also revealed a new set of untethered, fully tracked VR headsets powered by Daydream. The possibilities are endless.

Preferred Pronouns

Much like the Game Developers Conference earlier this year, the cult of social justice managed to latch onto Google in the form of “preferred pronoun” stickers. At the GDC, attendees were urged to wear nametags that allowed them to identify themselves as “he/him,” “she/her,” “they/them,” and “Steve Gaynor.” Google has done the same, with the addition of “ze/hir” and other unconventional pronouns.

Ze/hir was proposed by transgender author and “gender theorist” Kate Bornstein in 1996, and first saw use in the book Nearly Roadkill: an Infobahn erotic adventure. It’s not to be confused with Zehir, the evil god of darkness and poison in Dungeons & Dragons—but it’s just as make-believe.

At a booth titled “We care about your pronouns,” attendees could pick up stickers to attach to their badge and pick up others to share.

NY Times writer Farhad Manjoo shared photographs of the pronoun stickers on Twitter, for his many progressive followers, some of whom called the stickers “important.”

“Even Google recognizes the proper use of pronouns,” wrote LGBTQ advocate Amanda Jette Knox. “This is mainstream now, and folks who balk at the idea should get [hand clap emoji] over [hand clap emoji] it.”

It remains to be seen whether adoption of the new verbiage will happen as quickly as the new technology.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.