By Michael Collett, co-founder of Kin
One of my most cherished possessions is my grandad’s letter that he wrote from the front lines of World War II to my father, who was born while he was away at war. He’d been shipped off while my grandmother was pregnant and wasn’t sure when he’d get to meet his son. In the letter, he wrote:
“My son, although you cannot read this, I want mummy to kiss you on Christmas Morning at eight o’clock, and I will feel that kiss, as sure, as if I was there myself.”
My nana gave the letter to my father in 1982, and when he sadly passed away last year, my mum safely tucked it away in a shoe box in the attic; like most of us would do.
It’s funny to think my son most likely won’t have handwritten letters like this to pass down to his grandson. I sometimes wonder, what will he have? Screenshots of WhatsApp messages don’t have quite the same romanticism to them. What is the best way to capture and pass down the moments, memories and sentiments that form our shared family history – especially in this digital age?
The Age of Hyper Communication
We live in a time of hyper communication – where we can message anyone, pretty much anywhere in the world on 5 or 10 different devices and on dozens of platforms. Convenient, but it can also feel a bit shallow and scattered. All the special milestones like birthdays and small, but special moments like that ridiculous outfit your toddler decided to wear to nursery are saved in the same WhatsApp feed sandwiched between the practical messages asking your spouse not to forget the milk and to order the costume for World Book Day.
And beyond the strange mashup of sentimental and mundane, the other issue is family media is saved so disparately across digital and analogue: in photo albums, dusty old VHS tapes in the loft, on Facebook albums, in WhatsApp, on photo streams, on Instagram and on mantelpieces.
When you stop to think about it, it’s kind of a shame. Particularly when you compare it to how most of the other data in our lives – log-ins, photos, information, stories, etc – is stored and kept secure in ways that are easy to retrieve, share and pass down; all the data except for the stuff that really matters.
If there is any data that is truly priceless and worth keeping secure more than any other, it is our family’s. And we don’t mean DOBs and birth weights, we mean videos, photos, voice recordings – all the forms of media that capture our families’ memories, anecdotes, and the essence of our story – the personalities, quirks, and a shared sense of humour. It’s time we started putting the data that really matters somewhere that’s fit for purpose, a secure digital home that all our loved ones can access. After all, it’s priceless.
Kin – A Digital Home for Everything That Matters
Feeling up to the challenge, my co-founder Matt and I built Kin, a private social media app, for just this purpose. It started when I wanted to find a way to leave future messages for my son and expanded into a private media space where families chat with each other, post videos and photos on a shared timeline. A closed, ad-free social network where the only people who have access to your photos, videos and messages are your select family and friends. There’s no advertising and your data will never be for sale.
Kin is much more than just a secure way to store your families’ data and digital legacy. It’s a way to connect in the present with family and friends through group chat and everyday updates. Kin provides a link to the past through our Memorial Accounts which let you tag in photos and include family members who are gone, but not forgotten. And it provides a link to the future by allowing family to send Future Messages, a time capsule message you can send to unlock on the date of your choice. Celebrate a milestone birthday or create a message to unlock the week your grandson graduates University. Make a family future message together at New Year predicting what you’ll all be up to in a year’s time. There’s no limit to the creativity you can employ. Enjoy all of these features, advertising-free and knowing your family data is private, but easily searchable and shareable among your loved ones.
Of course, Kin has not been built to replace the places family data is kept per se. We don’t expect anyone to chuck their family albums and delete all their social accounts the day they download Kin. But we built Kin with the purpose of storing and sharing memories and legacies all in one easy-to-use private digital space. We want Kin to give you a better way for everyone in the family, no matter where they live, to have access to your shared family story, connect with each other in a central spot and create a digital legacy that you and future generations can enjoy. We built Kin to meet the ever-evolving needs of families and friends as close as family when it comes to connecting with each other and in relation to storing, searching and securing data.
As our co-founder Matt Blom put it – “Are our families just another WhatsApp group?… It’s not through choice that we’ve ended up in that position, it’s because that was what was available to us, but it doesn’t quite fit the purpose.” And when I pull out my grandad’s letter, the original future message, to scan and add to our family Storyline, I like to think he’d be quite chuffed with where it ended up.