AirPush is Offensive to my Sensibilities

I saw this tweet from a friend (@RyanBooker) today: “Is this for real? This would guarantee your software is immediately uninstalled” with a link to the following video:

And I don’t know about you but it really gave me the heebie-jeebies. I found myself being repulsed in illogical, unreasonable ways. I’m not even an Android developer (or user), but I found this completely offensive. After I cooled down and was able to think clearly for a minute I reflected on why I had such an adverse reaction. I realized that its all about the sacredness of notifications.

You see we are slowly migrating over to a post-scarcity world. Information, is one commodity which has become so abundant (and so cheap); that it’s become a limitless resource. In a post-scarce world, the main commodity is attention. User attention becomes the focus of generating profits and this is (and has always been) the entire idea behind advertising. Advertisers pay others for a slice of the attention they receive.

As user’s expose themselves to greater quantities of new information and media, they spend greater quantities of their focus (and attention). Sooner or later, unless users can adopt greater efficiencies their attention becomes very scarce. I think we’ve reached a point where our collective attention is so scarce as to it being entirely depleted. We’re so saturated with new media and access to information that the effectiveness of advertising is becoming greatly diminished. We’ve become desperate to find “a few more minutes in a day” and thus we’ve adapted to ignoring advertising to steal some attention back. Most of us (especially geeks) have evolved a personal ‘ad blocker’ in our mind’s eye.

Unfortunately the cost is that it’s become harder to remember importances. So we rely on our mobile technology to inform us when we need to jump to action. As a primitive example, who uses the alarm function on their smart phone? Our phones are our personal assistants. They tell us when our friends are trying to contact us, they act as our saviors when something goes wrong, they entertain us when we’re bored and they tell us important things WHEN we need to know them. Usually, they do this through the notification system. It’s a special sacred system devoted to the most important issues in our lives. This is what’s so wrong about AirPush. They are capitalizing on the cost of our mobile notifications. Technologically speaking, the most important area of our lives. When we hear the distinctive sound, or see that special symbol of our phone’s notification system; we spring into direct action. They are cashing into our need for a system that helps us live our lives, lest we miss opportunities or forget something important.

That’s the basis of my offense. I need my notification system to be personalized and pure because I rely on it to assist me with the day-to-day running of my life.

AirPush says that they’ve changed the API to require opt-in/opt-out due the torrent of outcry and negative feedback that developers have clearly been slammed with but for me, that isn’t really enough. I shouldn’t HAVE to opt-out of something that uses my notification area inappropriately and without permission.  And conversely, if the system is opt-in, then its all but useless to developers (because let’s be honest who would WANT such a thing?)

Frankly, AirPush is a violation of the way I use my mobile devices and I would never abide any application which employed such a system. It’s gotta be the fastest way to get users to uninstall your app.

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