Where’s My Interruption Manager? Not In One Place, I’m AfraidMarch 1, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Posted in Attention Management, email, interruption science | 1 Comment
Larry Cannell pointed me to a good posting by Daniel Tunkelang called “You Can’t Hurry Relevance“. Mr. Tunkelang obviously believes in the idea of attention management. I especially like the way he states the holy grail of attention management: a system that understands what is important to the user and dispositions messages accordingly. Well, I’ll let his own words shine here:
As an information consumer, I’d appreciate an interface that explicitly and transparently adapts to my priorities, and that manages interruption of my workflow accordingly
Here’s what I commented back on his entry regarding the statement above:
There will not be one tangible “thing” that manages interruptions based on priorities. But there will be a collection of technologies and capabilities that, taken together, can be used to manage attention. I call this collection of technologies and capabilities that manage attention the Enterprise Attention Management conceptual architecture. I posted this architectural model on the KnowledgeForward blog in 2006. You can find it here:
Since it is not one, purpose-built, tightly integrated set of pieces, it takes a walk-through to apply it to any particular problem. The problem you mention in this posting is e-mail, and you’ve provided 3 good suggestions on how to take advantage of urgency. I applied the EAM model to e-mail as an example and yielded 15 examples where technology could help, many of which are indeed available in some e-mail systems (although often buried or cludgy). You can see my list and how the EAM architecture helped derive it here:
I really like your thought that urgency should be taken into account in the e-mail process. You have some good ideas for the receiving end of e-mail. I still wouldn’t give up on the sender’s side too. When sending letters and packages, people don’t mind picking between a number of options (ground, express, signature required, etc.) that indicate urgency. If we can do a bit of behavior change (or possible force people via a token system), it’s interesting to think about how much e-mail could be improved. Easier said than done though.