If you’re going to send a handwritten note, should you be using an app? Or is it the thought that counts?
Isn’t it nice to get a handwritten note? Ah. Now there’s an app for that. A company called Bond has created a robot that recreates people’s handwriting, elegantly writing out whatever people want to say on notes and posting them to the recipient. The video on Bond’s website shows how a great deal of thought having gone into this product, and the resulting notes look pretty much like the real deal.
But what’s the point of a handwritten note? Is it the way it looks, or is it the intent behind it? Sonny Caberwal, founder of Bond, thinks it’s the former: “We don’t think it’s necessarily about the time you take to put together the gift; it’s the intent,” Caberwal told FastCompany. “Ultimately people are about the human experience. You want convenience but you also want to feel things. I don’t mean literally feel things, but the emotional context. Good communication elicits a response and an emotion for someone.”
But is it really “good communication” to let someone think you sent them a handwritten note, when in reality you just typed out a message on an app and a robot did the rest? In the age of electronic communication, handwriting has taken on a new meaning, signalling that time and care has been invested. It’s deceptive to let someone think this is the case when it’s not.
If we want apps to save us time there are plenty of those out there that do just that, without any of the pretence. Take a bus-arrivals app, for example, which save us time by cutting down the time we have to spend standing around in the road. Or banking apps, which remove the need to go down to the branch and queue. These are a win-win: customers like them because they speed up a service, and businesses like them because they free up staff to do deal with the more complex tasks.
Maybe the solution to the handwriting issue is to download a few more time-saving apps for transport and personal admin, and then use the time saved to sit down and write a letter by hand? There’s a “Bond” for that too: Basildon Bond was the archetypal stationery company of the early 1900s, and they’re still providing stationery for correspondence the traditional way. After all, it’s the thought that counts.
In fairness, Bond’s handwriting app is not a bad idea in itself. A company holiday card would look great written in ink, as long as there’s a little “Written by Bond” note in the corner to put the design in proper context. And that context is this: the CEO didn’t write this card for you personally, so you don’t have to thank him or her as if they did.