Joel Christiansen


October 14, 2023
This week, I've been thinking about alerts. Specifically, I'm rethinking the extent to which it is practical to remain alertless.

During vacation earlier this summer, the smoke alarm in our Airbnb intermittently triggered in the middle of the night. There was an issue with the electricity during a Cascadian wind storm. When things settled, the smoke alarm randomly sounded a warning beep every few minutes. Our dogs were distraught; one hid under the bed, and the other paced and panted. But if that was a fire, the alarm would have saved our lives.

Recently, we Americans got test alerts from FEMA/FCC. After the extremely obnoxious noise subsided, the text alert assured that "no action is required." Very understandable that the government would want the capability to alert citizens of life-threatening emergencies.

These two alerts got me thinking abot lesser notifications. Texts, calendar notifications, emails, @mentions, to-do updates, and those photo memories served up to remind you where you were X years ago. These are all things I want to know about. But certainly not in the same manner as fires, natural disasters, or inbound missiles. Notifications are neither alarms nor alerts. They do not need to beep, pop up, or trigger little red dots. They can wait quietly and invisibly until I choose to consume them.