Calm Tech: Push & Pull Messaging

Chris Harris

Chris Harris / January 12, 2022

3 min read

To send you, and only you, a message, I would currently have to speed run past all the other messenger traffic in what feels like a mix between robbing a bank and crossing a road in Frogger. It's too easy to get caught out by other messages, if not on the way in then surely on the way out.

Calm Tech Messaging: Example of busy, live mode

User interfaces are often optimized for their passive density of real-time, updates. Live updates are good while monitoring a nuclear reactor and less good while drinking tea.

The live message inbox can be a hostile experience for sending & receiving messages with any kind of focus, at least for other highly sensitives.

You wouldn't leave a loaded gun firing on the table where it could go off at any moment. A more sensible safety catch might be to time-out to a 'Calm Mode' rather than live in the perpetual 'Busy Mode' of messenger inbox and notification alerts.

I would like The deliberate and granular ability to 'push' and 'pull' messages from specific people in specific contexts.

This would be different from just enabling Do Not Disturb on a phone's operating system level, although apps could react to that intention and orientate themselves accordingly.

I want to be able to send you a message without being bombarded by everybody else's thoughts. I may even want to send you a sincere message without receiving your latest memes and pet activity.

Calm Tech Messaging: Example of calm, transmit mode

An additional mode 'Calm Mode' interface in which we could 'find a contact' and then 'message a contact' as above could suffice. Or just a 'pause all incoming messages and hide unread notifications' while still being able to otherwise navigate as normal as below.

Calm Tech Messaging: Example of calm, pause mode

The other tragically difficult thing to do these days is temporarily toggle between higher priority notifications for different contacts and contexts.

e.g. To focus on a task but temporarily allow updates from people close to you who, may need your help today, or who you might be having dinner with later, or who you're expecting news from.

Easily dragging contacts temporarily to my live notifications and then allowing them to automatically transition after a set period of time might be a nice option here.

Calm Tech Messaging: Example of calm, selective mode

Of course, many nuances lay in-between these little suggestions.

Problematically, with the current economic default of industrially designed applications surviving on data capitalism and contact moats, we trade a lot for our connection.

I have faith this will change and we will soon have options to design these kind of Calm Tech and customised experiences that work for us, while still being plugged into the main contact networks. More on that soon.

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