We built Contactually initially to solve a relatively simple problem. While it’s, for many, an important aspect of growing their business and career – keeping track of and staying in touch with key relationships is not an easy task.
We were fortunate to yield significant results there, measured not only in the user testimonials about their business growth, but in demand and scale of our own business as well.
Stepping back and looking at the larger trends of feedback received, there was something about Contactually that, for many, resonated deeper than the quantifiable business outcomes. We had many a passionate participant, but we had numerous who would come to us sharing that our platform made them feel… more human.
We were able to come up with a simple narrative for this – that the wave of technology has changed the way we interact with others, not always in our best interest. We’re connected to more people than ever before, which creates a bevy of weak connections, while at the same time robbing us of the time and attention necessary to foster deeper relationships. Our product, which helped identify and re-engage with fading relationships, helped counter that.
The question is – what is “more human” these days? Hasn’t the technology we use, that shapes our daily lives, been created by us?
Man is a creature who makes pictures of himself and then comes to resemble the picture – Iris Murdoch
I’ve been thinking about this challenge continuously. We have built apps, services, websites, chatbots, etc, to interact in the way we think we want to be. But by using them, it further shapes us.
And, as we have seen, not always for the better.
So moving forward, is it on us, is it on me, to develop products that can help re-shape, re-mold us into how we should be? Who defines “should?”
Along these lines, thanks to Chris Messina, I’ve been diving into prosocial behavior, “characterized by a concern for the rights, feelings, and welfare of other people.” If we were to adopt that as the definition of “more human” – what picture would we paint?