Notifiers: Good or Evil?

Google Notifier, Tweetdeck, AlertThingy, Growl, Gcal, iCal – they all put big fat notifications in your face.  On the one hand, you get info right as it comes in.  On the other hand, they are workflow destroyers. 

You're in the middle of doing something – for me that would be video editing or writing or researching – and bam – a little pop up tells you that something in the world has changed.  Your friend is eating soup for lunch.  That's great – about 1 out of every 10 notifications are worthwhile.  That's probably more my fault more than anything.  I need to rework my notifier system so more important things are brought to my attention if at all.

So how can these things be streamlined?  I'm brainstorming on theoretical ideas here – so I'm open to suggestions here.  Maybe cramming every tweet into an RSS reader with Growl?  What about e-mails?  I can run a notifier that grabs both my personal and business e-mail or I could adopt the check hourly method.  On my desktop machine, I just keep those e-mail accounts open so I can just glance to see what's new. 

More ideas later.

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