Social Writing w/ Arduino

Want to set writing goals with your peers and share real achievement? There's an app for that!

Social Writing is a cloud-Slack-Arduino app to help socially contextualize the writing process. Designed for distributed office space for use by PhD students, Social Writing shares your daily milestones with the group.

 Social Writing - Early prototype - each LED indicates that a distributed user had met their writing goal.

Social Writing - Early prototype - each LED indicates that a distributed user had met their writing goal.

How it works

  1. Do some writing (notes, thesis, project details)
  2. Paste your work into your group's Slack #writing channel
  3. A bot in the cloud counts your work
  4. Receive notification when you meet your word count goal
  5. Your LED turns on at each workspace in the network
  6. Grab a coffee with everyone for meeting your goal
 Two locations currently set up with Arduino interface

Two locations currently set up with Arduino interface


We want to improve productivity AND social activity in the workplace. We're not entirely sure what we expect out of our first prototype, but it's promisingly simple. 

Productivity & Engagement

By setting and working toward goals, even tiny goals, we hope that it will improve our productivity and our overall engagement with work. Writing a thesis is a long process and can involve periods of inactivity. By creating a system to support regular, if only small, commitment we hope this design mitigates this disengagement.

Peer Visible Writing

Writing can also be a very independent activity. We hope to bring some social elements to it, to create a sense that we are working with others.

Firstly, as writing is shared in Slack, your work is visible to peers that have joined the channel. This could catalyze discussion and support peer feedback by allowing people to see your work who may never have had the chance.

Secondly, as peer's goal achievements are shared, users are afforded the opportunity to take action on that. Are you meeting your goal, but your friends aren't? You're doing great! Are others starting to make progress, leaving you behind? Time to get to work! We aim for this to allow users to set their own goals and to use personal and social elements to support users to self-motivate and be more productive.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

This design isn't about extracting every drop of juice of productivity from the users. We don't want to overwhelm users. We don't want people to compete on how much they've written - with themselves or others. Therefore Social Writing isn't about how much you've written. There are no graphs, numbers or leaderboards. It's just about if you make your small little goal. There are no rewards and there are no penalties. You can cheat the system - that's on you.

Passive Emphasis

This design aims to avoid being obtrusive. It's a passive engagement other than a simple copy/paste into the Slack channel. We don't want it to chew up your time or make any extra work for you. We don't want your managing excel sheets or task lists. Consequently, the activity happens in the background, via the cloud, and the LEDs come on automatically with an achievement completion. As the LED interface is placed non-disruptively, but visibly in the office space, you can passively notice progress in achievement making.


Robert Cercos and me!