Embrace the Robot: Making the Technology Work for You

Prometheus brought us fire and paid for it. Arguably, he was one of the first techno geeks, and, like him we all pay a price for progress, but I’m pretty sure if Prometheus had to choose between his innards plucked out of him for eternity or staying at home twiddling his thumbs in the dark, my guess would be he’d do it all over again.

So we steal fire everyday, whether we text our family, switch on our Kindle, or sit down for another round of Dr. Who on the telly. Sure, we’ll hem and haw about how these gadgets corrode our culture–whatever that is–or stunt intellectual growth, but technology is here to stay, so we might as well embrace the robot and use these tools to our advantage.

Aside from the traditional modes of technology, such as Twitter and Facebook, here are some of the latest advancements writers would be wise to nab for their own work and pleasure:

For Tooting Your Horn

  • Foursquare– a collaborative website that lets users check into places and explore their cities. Excellent for drumming up publicity on special events or drawing attention to literary venues such as independent bookstores and libraries, assuming they’re still open.
  • Instagram-touch up photos and share them instantly. Great for event sharing or banging the drum for visual publicity.
  • WordPress and Blogger– Miraculously easy to use blogs. They work like a dream with some sophisticated templates that are easy on the eye and pocket. Most are free, but you can always upgrade–its a god-given right.

For Reading

  • Bibliotastic– self-described on their website, “free e-books, free to publish, free to download.”
  • Readability – readers can strip bare web articles and free digital text from photos and ads. Power to the readers! *Though there is a small fee for use of this.
  • Web Scribbler– Remember how your composition teacher tasked you to highlight and annotate your textbooks? This little number allows users to literally write on their chosen websites. More power to readers!
  • InstaPaper– Like Google Reader, this site allows you to bookmark other sites and articles you want to read for later.
  • The New York Times recently covered some of these reader apps in their article “Apps Alter Reading on the Web” by Jenna Wortham published on January 31, 2011: “A wave of applications, including Pulse, Flipboard and My Taptu, are responding to changes in how people prefer to read on the Web, putting articles and blog posts into cleaner or more attractive visual displays. “
  • Push Pop Press– Coming out with sizzling hot new interactive text from Al Gore, Our Choice, this new publishing press is smoking.

For Writing

  • Scrivener- Onto the good stuff now, and we mean really, good. Scrivener is a writer’s dream, organizing everything and almost anything you can think of into a comprehensive binder for any project. You pay a one-time well worth it fee of $45, and you will be converted to a new found and empowering digital faith.
  • Leechblock– When will power isn’t enough, you can turn to Leechblock, an add-on from Firefox, which cuts off your access to any given website for certain periods at a time, so you don’t feel compelled to shop online or check your frenemies’ status updates on Facebook when you really should be revising your third draft.
  • Freedom – For the shamelessly weak, this one prohibits any and all use of the Internet. No Pandora, no using the excuse of researching Wikipedia for that tidbit of info. Purely distraction free to really and truly finish revising that third draft, so get to work!

For becoming a social entrepreneur

  • Kickstarter– “a funding platform for artists, designers, filmmakers, musicians, journalists, inventors, explorers…”
  • RocketHub– Like Kickstarter, this site serves as your “creative launchpad.” They’re motto: “Welcome to the crowdfunding revolution.”

These are just a few of the latest ways to write, read, and connect virtually. We’ve just pushed off into the digital frontier, and our exploring has only begun. Share some of your own tech savvy ways. What are you favorite apps, sites, and software to rev your literary and artistic engines? We’d love to hear from you.


  1. Awesome, awesome article, Mme. la salonniere! I find it unfortunate when artistic purists dismiss social media, because doing so is the surest way to get “left behind,” Rapture-style (especially once Web 3.0 comes along). You give some great suggestions for leveraging social media for not just aiding one’s writing (Leechblock especially serves as a nice deterrent to procrastination and/or just general distraction), but also beyond, i.e. as tools of promotion and entrepreneurship. Thanks again for this excellent resource. (And love the “Doctor Who” mention!).

  2. Thanks, Rio! I need to start tracking all the different nifty tools and making more use of them. Technophobes really only seem to be hurting themselves, and I have to remind literary purists that Plato once condemned the written word because he believed it would ruin the rich oral tradition of his time. There’s always something to lament!

    I’ve also posted this article under “Writer’s Tools” at the top menu as a handy way of accessing the different links. If you see any new techno developments, please let me know and I’ll be sure to add it to this collection. Hope you’re well!

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