What does it mean to build impactful, meaningful software? This is an important philosophical question because success can only be determined by intent. Facebook builds software that is extremely successful when measured by their goal of getting people to spend time on the platform. But my values aren’t aligned with Facebook’s goals; I’d rather spend my time avoiding death scrolling and endless advertising, so I don’t have a Facebook account.

We see meaningful software as software that helps people interact with their devices less and connect with those around them more. It's useful and helpful for real problems, unobtrusive, and brings about significant change.

It's more than the code that’s written, or even the product that’s built. It's a way of thinking about real challenges and finding ways to make the challenge more inclusive of relationships and values, whether for going about their daily lives, working in an organization, or for a larger community or group of people.

For anyone who is doing meaningful, impactful work, there is no doubt that technology can be a tool, a vehicle, a conduit for that change. It is a platform on which great things can be built. On the other hand, technology is also a reflection of how our society is functioning. So, as a society, we must ask ourselves, what do we want from this thing we call technology? What do we want from the digital world? What do we want from the machines that we invent?

At DifferentKind, we place a very strong emphasis on this aspect of our work. We ask ourselves, and patients, “What do people want from their dental experience? And then, how can we help dental professionals provide those types of experiences?”

I love this quote from a study done in Australia that asked patients what they valued about their dental care.

“I have dropped dentists in the past. I think that how they were able to relate to me as a person was probably the biggest indicator of whether I felt comfortable with what they were doing. I suppose if you have a choice of five people with the same skill set, it is how they are able to deliver that skill set that is more important than the skill set as such.”

It's this desire to change the status quo, to fundamentally improve the way patients experience their biannual “dental day,” that drives our products and helps us to focus on building software that has a meaningful impact for both patients and dental professionals alike.