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Updated: Aug 6, 2019
I recently came across this amazing wired article called 'A brief history of smartphone notifications'.
The article is about how humans are suffering from an overload of notifications, and about how we came to this point. Initially designed at a time before social media and mobile apps, notifications have grown to become a massive problem not only to our stress levels but also to our productivity. This staggering data point says it all: 'Modern smartphone users receive more than double the number of notifications per day than they think they’re getting—as many as 73 per day'!
One of the key questions was around who should carry the burden of fixing notifications. Should the responsibility to be on the tech companies and app makers or should it be on the users, the humans, who are sending each other all kinds of messages and alerts all day long?
One interviewee, who is a professor who studies distraction, suggested an idea that I was thinking about for while: 'Ironically, we might need more technology to help us deal with our problem with technology'. Indeed, none of the existing stakeholders will address this challenge as mobile apps are in the business of catching as much as possible of our attention whilst humans have grown addicted to constant updates. However, people could learn and be empowered to resist notifications or consume them in a more efficient way...
We recently backed an audio entertainment startup called Sybel in Paris, which, besides creating amazing audio shows for adults and kids, lets you reduce your screen addiction while enjoying the same (or better? 😜) level of entertainment. Similarly, I am certain that there are great ideas out there to help us manage our addiction with notifications... A great example is an app called Daywise which let's you group notifications in batches so you can receive them at specific moments during the day. Also, while I think that voice interfaces and voicefirst apps will change forever the way we interact with software, they might also be a great solution here as they could send more context relevant notifications...?
Perhaps a business opportunity for someone?
If you have been thinking about the same problem and are convinced to have come up with a great solution, please do not hesitate to reach out. I would love to discuss.
Opportunities are everywhere!