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March 30, 2015 / Jim Fenton

How to describe Nōtifs?

Notification examplesIt has been several months since I have blogged or presented on Nōtifs, the notification concept I described last fall. But I have been working actively on it, and now have an early prototype running that I expect to talk about and demonstrate at the 20th Internet Identity Workshop, April 7-9 in Mountain View, California. It has been refreshing to be writing code again, and there’s no substitute for “running code” when it comes to working out the bugs in a concept like this.

A friend that I frequently talk with pointed out the need for me to think about how to describe this, since it doesn’t quite fit into any of the usual categories. Thinking about how I have described it to various people, I realize that I have different ways of talking about Nōtifs depending on the audience: how interested they are in the technical details, what their field of interest is, and how much time I have to do the describing. What follows is a collection of ways that I might describe Nōtifs, or aspects of Nōtifs that might be interesting (in no particular order):

To a privacy advocate:

Nōtifs allows you to receive notifications – everything from emergency alerts to advertising and newsletters – without giving the sender a persistent address like an email address or a phone number. It also doesn’t reveal anything new about you to the notifier, other than the name of the agent (which is likely to be shared with others).

To someone concerned with spam and phishing:

Nōtifs gives you a way to receive notifications without spam and phishing messages. All notifiers must sign each notification and must be  authorized by you, the recipient. Notifications you expect to receive via Nōtifs will be treated with more suspicion if they arrive by email instead.

To someone concerned with inbox clutter:

Nōtifs help you manage your notifications by allowing notifiers to update and delete notifications, rather than send new ones. They can also set best-effort expiration times for notifications whose value has limited duration.

To someone working on the Internet of Things:

Nōtifs is instant messaging for the Internet of Things.

To someone who is involved with email:

Nōtifs is a one-way messaging medium that does not replace email, but it is a better medium for some of the things we currently use email for.

To an advertiser or newsletter publisher:

Nōtifs provides a way of reaching [potential] customers without the deliverability problems of email, particularly spam filtering. Intermediaries like email sending providers are not necessary except to send very large numbers of nōtifs quickly. You get positive confirmation when the recipient’s agent accepts each notification. If users opt out of an existing notification, the next notification you send will tell you so you can remove them from your notification list and, if appropriate, re-engage with them in some other way.

To an emergency agency:

Nōtifs provides a way to quickly send notifications to large numbers of people that have subscribed. Message priorities allow you to distinguish emergency alert notifications from advisories and community information messages.

To someone who is concerned user control over their communications:

Nōtifs give users control over who and what notifies them. Users can also control how they get notified in response to a particular nōtif, and can opt out of any notification simply by telling their agent.

Got any more audiences that might be interested that I haven’t covered? Any better descriptions for these audiences? Please let me know in the comments.



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