Unhappy fortune! By my brotherhood,
The letter was not nice but full of charge,
Of dear import, and the neglecting it
May do much danger.
- Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Act 5 Scene 1
The idea for a startup surely begins long before incorporation. Darwin CX was formed on November 22, 2017, yet my personal journey to co-found it began two decades and two regrets earlier. Co-founders each have their own origin story. This one is mine, which I share now on the eve of the company being acquired.
Dead letters are messages that, for whatever reason, don’t reach their intended destination — a tragic symbol of failed communication and disconnection. Postal systems have dedicated dead letter rooms to process undeliverable mail. Many of Shakespeare’s plays pivot on a dead letter, the most famous being the ill-fated one that led to tragedy in Romeo and Juliet. Friar John was unable to deliver the letter because (all too familiar to us in the time of Covid) he was quarantined at home due to the plague. Since my early reading days, these missed connections have drawn my attention — a fifth business often off to the side and out of sight — yet critical to the outcome. …
Is the problem money? That seems hard to believe when we have the money to wage endless wars in the Middle East and repeatedly bail out incumbent banks, airlines, and carmakers. The federal government just passed a $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package in two weeks! …
Rather than regarding technology as an external force or temptation that we have to struggle against, I propose thinking about the alliances that we form with technology. This alliance begins when we acquire or access something, perhaps a new device, service, or data, and evolves as the technology challenges us and we challenge it. We bring the technology into social situations it wasn’t designed for. We draw on it to negotiate the limitations that we see in ourselves. In exploring new applications for it, we find new perspectives on ourselves and our social worlds….
For readers who work in technology development, perhaps these examples will inspire designs that reflect how people see themselves over time, or how they construct the significant relational and emotional themes in their lives. Too often tech designs focus on discrete tasks rather than taking into account the intricate, evolving self that each user brings to those tasks. …