Don't Send Email, Send Notifications

How much of the email in your inbox fits into the category of a person or company notifying you about something? If you are anything like me, it’s a lot. Amazon letting you know your product has shipped, or Google send you an alert telling you about a brand or URL mention, or someone confirming a meeting date or time. Part of the problem with inbox overload is that all these notifications come into your inbox, you read them and get the message, and then they sit around unless you are diligent about always deleting them. For me, that doesn’t seem like the best way to get all these notifications. Instead, I would love to see them in a stream as I can see updates from all the people I follow on Twitter. Or how I can see the activity of all my friends in my news feed on Facebook. In short, I’d love to subscribe to my own email

The easy argument is that I already have that and that the real solution is to train myself to get better at reading and filing my email. Yet, if you think about it, many of the senders of this type of email could perfectly easily somehow "tag" their emails as notifications. I think of it akin to a self-destruct button on these emails – where as soon as they were read they would be filed or deleted (depending on what a user wants). An alternative could be, just like I can have a spam filter for my inbox, perhaps someone should create a notification filter. It would organize all my notifications together and send them to me any way I choose … as a stream, or as Twitter messages, or as text messages. These notifications could also come from sources that don’t typically use email, like when your name is on the wait list for a table at a restaurant or you are in the car shop waiting for your car to be serviced. My point is, notifications need a different category and method of delivery than just being lumped into email.  Anyone out there seen or currently working on a notification filter or similar solution?  I’d volunteer in a second to be on your beta testing team …