Data Management Blog: When Push Comes to Shove (or playing cat and mouse with push technology)


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When Push Comes to Shove (or playing cat and mouse with push technology)

When will the end of push happen?  I'm desperately waiting for the humane demise of what has become an inhumane technology.  One that has run amuck.

Push technology initially held so much promise.  A way for me to keep appointments, become aware of significant happenings and stay connected to people.  But the dream has become a nightmare.  Constant interruption and devices that absolutely demand my attention.  I feel like I'm in a game of cat and mouse trying to stay ahead of the coercive effects of push technology.  Am I not the customer?

Example 1, my iPhone.  There are icons on my home screen that cannot be removed.  Applications that I have no interest in and for which I did not ask.  It used to be Apple Watch, now its things like the Wallet.  No matter what I do I can't remove them.  So I'm forced to stare at them every time I open the phone.  My daughter gave me a great solution to this problem.  She said to create a folder on the home screen named "garbage".  This folder can contain any app icons I don't want to see.  So I only have one unwanted icon on my home screen instead of several.  So I now stare at folder "garbage" every time I log in.

I've learned that newer versions of the OS allow you to remove the icons from the home screen but doesn't allow you to uninstall them.  A "half win".

As a business man, I believe this represents a failure to focus on the customer.  These apps on my iPhone are clearly so horrible that no person would voluntarily install this stuff, so the Apple people decided to make them in your face.  If they wanted real success, how about putting it on the App Store and getting good ratings like everything else.  Your app should be able to compete.

Example 2, Facebook notifications.  The use of the notifications feature itself went from useful to tragic.  At first, I got notified if someone mentioned me specifically.  Perfect use case, as I may want to respond.  And I did like this push feature.  But then it took a bad turn and started notifying me of every event under the sun.  It went even further and started notifying me of people posting things seemingly randomly.  Isn't that what the regular feed is already doing?  Why do I need to be notified that someone posted a picture that I am not even tagged in?  So push came to shove and I had to turn them off altogether.   Cat catches mouse.

Example 3, Samsung notifications.  My other phone is a Samsung.  I was trying to fix a Bluetooth connection problem and  started receiving a notification about my "Samsung account".  Well I have no interest in a Samsung account and never asked for it.  So I tried to find a way to turn off the notifications.  After fussing with it for a while, I received another notification that said very rudely "these notifications can't be turned off".  So now I have to live with a constant notification that never goes away?  What an annoyance!  In the end it was Samsung wanting all my personal information at all times.  So I couldn't log in and log out as desired.  I had to log in always or get spam notified.  Push became shove.  So that meant I had to delete my Samsung account altogether.  You lose.

This kind of behavior isn't like bloatware of old.  We've all dealt with bloatware, especially when buying computers.  They are famous for installing lots of junk.  The difference is that you could generally take the time and get rid of it.  But when this flotsam becomes mandatory, it really feels coercive.

Example 4, whenever any app is installed anywhere.  I bet many of you play this game too.  Whenever I install any app, I immediately go to the "settings" and uncheck all the notifications I don't want.  Because the default behavior is to get bombarded with notifications.  The developers don't ever think I have any other applications besides theirs.  Ego centric to say the least.  And some apps will not allow you to turn all of them off, merely reduce the number of them.  So push again becomes shove.  This inevitably leads to removal of the app, or disabling notifications for the app in the operating system itself.  Once again cat and mouse.

As a business person, I end up feeling like I am not the customer any longer.  I feel increasingly like I'm being viewed as merely a gold mine.  To be excavated for good stuff which is then sold to their real customers.  I could never run my business that way and I would love for technology firms to bring the customer back into focus.
Apps that don't annoy you into compliance but help you get something done.
Apps where the user is in control.
Apps that are designed for your benefit.
That way we don't have to play cat and mouse.

© Copyright Paul Kiel.