Tag Archive: writing


5 reasons I care about Google Glass

1. I’m a nerd. (Duh; have we met?)

Thus, of course I was attracted to Google’s #ifihadglass program: a chance for a few thousand consumers (read: NOT developers) to get an exclusive sneak preview and beta tester status for Google Glass wearable technology and its “Glassware” apps/platform. Up to that point, only developers who’d attended last year’s Google i/O conference had gotten a chance to preorder it.

2. I’m a techthusiast.

I took Computer Science classes in high school, but my techthusiasm didn’t fully develop until I began to work for digital marketing firm Critical Mass in 2007. As a Senior Copywriter there, I’ve gotten the chance to brainstorm websites and apps for clients from Pampers to United Airlines, and even a project for Google. Dreaming up these solutions made me realize how smart and helpful technology could be. This work also showed me that I could help shape its future. Awesome, in the truest sense of the word.

My first #throughglass pic

My first #throughglass pic

3. I make up worlds with different technologies – for fun.

In 2009, I wrote the first draft of my young-adult speculative fiction manuscript 30 Decibels. The technology in the story stems from a separate set of circumstances: in a future society, only some people can talk and the rest have to whisper. These “Whisper Rules” took effect after social media-triggered food shortage riots killed half the world. Tech and social media are as regulated as possible, and each person’s volume signifies their level of access. Whisperers use a few devices for text-based messages while Leaders still have all the networks and devices we do – and more.

4. Glass seemed so familiar…

30 Decibels is set in the year 2123, and the tech is well removed from ours. Or so I thought. See for yourself, with a quick excerpt where main character Ava sends a message to her best friend:

Maybe I should warn Michele. I hold down a button on my specs ’ponder and sweep my eyes left to bring up a list of who’s around. After selecting “Robby,” I type the rest using gestures along my left temple. My movements are well-versed enough that most people probably don’t notice – including Robby – but my heart races anyway. Holding down all the buttons sends my message:

FIGHT W/ROBBY.

More on ‘ponders (“transponders”): To create messages, you’d use your voice, mouth movements, or combo of touch, eye tracking, and location-based info. Security “scentsors” identify you by your unique smell, so your ‘ponder only retrieves your data when you’re the one wearing it.

As you can probably guess, when I first read about Google’s plans to introduce Glass, I geeked out. Sure, the “specs ’ponder” described above works a little differently – for instance, Glass’s user interface doesn’t use an eye-tracking interface (yet), and gestures are made on the right side rather than the left. But, I’ll be honest; I sure felt smart.

5. Google picked me (nerd-girl Margo!) to try it.

My #ifihadglass entry, submitted via Google+ in February, wasn’t groundbreaking; I listed a few primary ways I’d use it on a regular basis: hands-free navigation while riding my bike (my only wheels), recording new ideas on the spot (also hands-free), and showing my son what my Los Angeles life is like between visits back to Chicago. Frankly, I expected nothing to come of the entry.

On March 27, Google invited me to be a Glass Explorer.

Hearing the news set my heart on overdrive, not only for all the ubernerdy reasons above and because I wanted to get my hands on Glass, but also – admittedly – because it meant the judging panel may have considered me savvy with the social medias… the Facebooks, Twitters, YouTubes, the G+es. I’d heard the selection process would consider applicants’ influence through social networks. (Note: A few peculiar Glass invites early on triggered speculation about Google’s judging process, but most of that has been cleared up.)

My career as a copywriter in the digital space often has me thinking in the languages of social media and branding, at levels ranging from mom ‘n pop to conglomerate. I can’t guess how many research abstracts, insight briefs, and articles I’ve read on the subjects in my 14 years of ad & marketing experience.

The philosophy I try to follow with self-branding is to spend only the time with it that’s enjoyable, and no more. Case in point, to SO many people, I am the WORST EVER blogger because I don’t write posts at least once a week. Sue me; I’m too busy writing for other brands – United, HP, USAA, for instance. (Now; if only I’d put that writing into blog posts. Sure I’d get into HUGE trouble with work clients, but man would I look prolific!)

An invite to Project Glass meant my online “presence” may’ve had an impact – and that made me glad and proud I’d taken personal branding (at least semi-) seriously. Professionally, receiving the invite was a bit like receiving the ultimate LinkedIn recommendation – from effing Google! Pardon my effing French.

I picked up Glass at the Google office in Venice, CA. The experience is well-documented here, in the LA Times. Fair warning: nerd-girl appears throughout the featured video.

Google Glass through the eyes of an early adopter [LA Times]

Google Glass through the eyes of an early adopter [LA Times]

Read the follow-up post: 7 things I’ve learned #throughglass.

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Thanks to everyone who’s joined Readers Aloud.
After two weeks, we’re 60 readers strong and counting!

I *just* drew the winner of the 3-Chapter Readers Aloud giveaway, via random.org. Without further ado, the winner is…

S. Kyle Davis!

The prize: I’ll read 3 chapters of Kyle’s work-in-progress and send him an audio file. This way, he can listen to his work and find the spots that may need more attention. Many agents and editors highly recommend incorporating this step into the revision process. (Here’s an article on why this technique works.)

So, what does Kyle think about his win? I’m such a nerd for giveaways, I had to ask him:

I think that Readers Aloud is awesome! I’ve already done my first reading, and I’m excited to do more. It’s easy and a lot of fun. I am so excited that I won the contest, and I’m looking forward to hearing the results. I’m very curious to hear how my book sounds during a cold read, and think this will be a huge help during my writing and revisions. Thanks Margo!

Yay, Kyle! I look forward to reading those chapters.


Could you use a fresh perspective on your WIP?

Visit Readers Aloud, a free and open exchange on Facebook designed to help revising writers. Our willing readers can help you take your manuscript to a whole new level – and you can do the same for someone else.

I can’t stop smiling right now. So many of my favorite things came together yesterday: the writing community, the revising craft, helping others, and one simple exchange at the speed of social networking. And in the end, I have something to show for it. It’s just a seed right now, but soon a community of writers and non-writers will grow to help each other better craft the written word. Introducing:

Readers Aloud

Readers Aloud is an open exchange project, pairing willing voices with revising writers or others who need read-aloud versions of written work.

Writers, join the group to take your manuscript to a whole new level – HEAR your latest revision from a reader’s voice. More than you ever could before, you’ll pick up on subtle, nuanced changes you should make.

How Readers Aloud makes it happen:

1. Those who want something read aloud leave a post on the wall describing their project (genre, word count, etc).
2. Volunteers comment on the projects they’d like to lend their voice to. Every little bit helps – even just a chapter. More commenters can chip in, crowdsource-style.
3. Writers and volunteers decide amongst themselves how to exchange text and audio files.
4. Give what you get! If you get help with your read-aloud project, help someone else with theirs – anything from a chapter to a whole book.
(Non-writers can post projects, too!)

I’m excited to help my fellow writers – starting with the group’s co-founder, author Kat Yeh. Kat’s work-in-progress will be the FIRST Readers Aloud project. After all, it helped inspire the group (see the story below)!

Enter our Charter Member Contest!

Join Readers Aloud (for free, of course!) and leave a comment below. For every comment from a new member, I’ll read aloud & record 250 words of Kat’s book. So challenge me – if 200 new members leave comments, I’ll read the whole thing!

Writers, get a chance to win!

Writers with a work in progress: tell me in your comment. We want to help! If you’re our randomly selected commenter, we’ll read aloud and record three chapters of any WIP to give your revision a boost.

To qualify, join the group and leave your comment by 11:59 CST on Monday, July 9. The winner will be announced July 11.

And do your writing community a solid – send your writing buds to http://bit.ly/ReadersAloud. Building our numbers will make it easier for all of us to get read-aloud help!

So… where’d this group come from?

My author friend Kat Yeh asked a question of her Facebook friends last night:

Does anyone else read their manuscript aloud during revision?

Kat wanted to know if she was the only one talking to herself. Of COURSE not! (Gosh, you’re silly!), the internet said. Harold Underdown, legendary editorial consultant and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books, commented,

“It’s a technique I recommend. Even better is to have someone read it to you.”

Many other writers echoed this, in the 37 comments Kat’s thread collected. At one point, she lamented that her manuscript was probably too much for one reader to take on – 53,335 words. So, my unthinking brain (it does that sometimes) typed “Crowdsource it!” in the comment box. But then I thought, Yeah – I could read her a chapter and record it. That’s easy! 10, 15 minutes tops. So in another comment, I offered to read a chapter. And then the two of us got to talking about the idea of an exchange… And that’s how Readers Aloud was born.

Become a charter member and read aloud with us. Add your ideas or general comments about the group below. Our brains are storming with thoughts on helping non-profits, starting a monthly best-of podcast, approaching acting schools and sketch troupes… The read-aloud sky is endlessly blue, and we welcome your thoughts!

What’s the3six5, you ask? Put simply, it’s a daily blog written by an author mosaic – a different person every day. Authors are young and old, famous folks and average Joes, writers and non-writers, from across the world.

And now, you can VOTE for the3six5.com among the internet’s best.

The blog has been nominated for a Webby Award in the Connections category: “Sites that connect people, create communities, and give individuals and small groups a vehicle for their expression and participation online.”

If the3six5 doesn’t epitomize this, I’ll print out this post and eat it.

Why in holy heck would I do that? Here’s a little more background:

Founders Len Kendall and Daniel Honigman set up shop in 2009, soliciting design input and working hard to line up the first 365 authors. On January 1, 2010, they kicked off the crowdsourced blog experiment. I’ve since lost track of all the mentions the3six5 has received over these last 16 months, but let’s just say it’s much-loved. One of my favorite early POVs on the project comes from self-proclaimed social cyborg and cyberculturalist Dr. Kevin Lim:

Around the start of 2010, I began hearing about this idea dubbed the3six5 project. A bunch of transmedia and emerging media folks discussed it with great fervor.

So I took a look…
frowned…
then asked…
“What’s the big effing deal?”

(Read the rest of Dr. Lim’s post here.)

I’m a huge fan of the3six5, and not just because I was lucky enough to contribute my own post last February (including the blog’s first-ever video clip). I’ve also found the project has connected me with friends I’ll have for life. I highly recommend it for your blog shortlist, as a daily reminder that we’re all human. For every day that goes by, every post published, the blog itself practically begins to breathe.

Cast your vote for the3six5 today!

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