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Time to put the “not” in “notifications”

Time to put the “not” in “notifications” published on No Comments on Time to put the “not” in “notifications”

I’m not sure when it happened. But at some point my laptop and smartphone stopped being places of work, creativity, conversation and leisure, and started being the dashboard of a highly-strung car.¬†Suddenly, I’m surrounded by¬†notifications.

Three new email messages. Five things just happened on Facebook. Four people have mentioned, DM’d or retweeted me on twitter. Six Google+ alerts. LinkedIn on the iPhone now feels the need to notify me that I can always check it to see what my contacts are up to. (That has to be the ultimate meta-reminder: an app reminding you that it still exists.)

And if I still don’t feel like I have the pulse of my system at my fingertips, I can install a shareware utility to notify me of all sorts of involuntary muscle movements on the part of my operating system and applications. “Backup complete.” “Word just updated itself.” “Photoshop just completed peristalsis.”

And it’s all too much. Because every one of those notifications conveys the same red-badged “deal-with-me-NOW” sense of extreme urgency, whether it’s a DM that my house is on fire and I should do something about it, or the announcement of the new Rabid Parakeet in Angry Birds. When everything’s important, nothing’s important.

The first few times I experienced notifications, I felt like the Terminator, with that cool heads-up display constantly alerting me to my surroundings, feeding me tactical data. After a while, though, it just feels like being 10 years old in the back seat with a pesky sibling who keeps poking you in the side.

Besides, once I have badges on my iPhone apps with numbers like “62” on them, the game is lost anyway, and all that those notifications are doing is rubbing salt into the wound.

Originally posted on ReadWriteWeb

Turns on a dime. Whether you want it to or not.

Turns on a dime. Whether you want it to or not. published on 4 Comments on Turns on a dime. Whether you want it to or not.

Also, it would yell loudly about who you were, where you were going and who you were going to meet there. There’d be a switch to turn that off. It would be located behind the catalytic converter on the underside of the car, and would be functional only when the car was moving at freeway speeds.

* * *

An interesting conversation unfolded after this first appeared on ReadWriteWeb. Here’s what I wrote there:

For those of us who develop apps or manage engagement strategy, is there any platform more infuriating, any terrain less stable, any regime more prone to arbitrary and capricious rule changes than Facebook?

Goodbye “fans”; hello “like”. Goodbye boxes; hello profile tabs. Goodbye contests-with-dairy-products-as-a-prize; hello you-can’t-have-contests-with-dairy-products-as-a-prize.

I’ll say this much: My work in Facebook has allowed me to better embrace the impermanence of all things.

A commenter suggested this is a radical field, change is to be expected, and (to paraphrase) roll with it, dude. I replied (grumpily) that “constant incremental Agile-style change, I can cope with. More significant change based on some kind of rationale or, better yet, roadmap, I can embrace. But for years, Facebook has been notorious for dropping bombshells from out of the blue, and making unannounced or poorly document under-the-hood changes that break apps and make developers’ lives hell.”

Can you tell I carry a grudge from the promotion guidelines fiasco?

Anyway, what do you think? Do I need to lighten up and embrace Facebook’s turbulence, even when clients’ budgets are on the line? Or is that just giving in to (quote from that same reply) to “disregard for customer, user and developer communities”?

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