In a humorous coincidence, page D2 of the Wall St Journal today is divided into two articles, floating next to each other as if they weren’t related at all except that they both belong in the “Home & Digital” section:
- An Email Inbox That Knows Who’s Important (about the Cloze email prioritizer for iPads)
- A Wristwatch Tells When Phone Calls, Emails Arrive (about the Pebble wristwatch that connects to email from your smartphone via Bluetooth)
Why didn’t anyone connect these two stories? The Cloze prioritizer promises to tell people which messages are more important. The Pebble watch promises to help people notice messages. Together you’d have a system that notifies people of important messages. It’s a classic application of the Enterprise Attention Management framework: pulling important messages forward and pushing less important messages back. The owners of these two companies need to get together for coffee sometime!
Individually, I don’t see either product being nearly as useful or successful. Why? Notification without prioritization is a recipe for constant annoyance. Any communication channel that’s interesting enough to be worth setting up notifications for is likely to suffer from increased message frequency over time. Having my watch buzz or beep for every email would be quite annoying and I’d eventually shut it off.
As a corollary, prioritization without notification is not living up to its full potential. Once Cloze is done prioritizing my most important emails, wouldn’t it be nice to really pull the important ones forward in a stronger way than sorting a list?
Ah, if only concepts like prioritization and notification could exist together in the same product, rather than just on the same page.