Alerts is the colloquial term used to define a machine-to-person communication that is important, urgent and/or time sensitive. Alerts is all the user requested content such as a reminder (important), a notification (urgent), and ultimately an alert (important and urgent).

Alerts emerged from the study of Personal Information Management (PIM), the science for discovering how people perform certain tasks to acquire, organize, maintain, retrieve and use information relevant to them. Alerts is a natural evolution of the concept of RSS which makes it possible for people to keep up with web sites in an automated manner. Alerts makes it possible for people to keep up with the information that matters most to them.

Alerts are typically delivered through a notification system and the most common application of the service is machine-to-person communication. Very basic services provide notification services via email or SMS. More advanced systems (for example AOL provides users with the choice of selecting a preferred delivery channel such as Email, Short Message Service (SMS), instant message (IM), via voice through voice portals and more. Novel approaches] provides users with the ability to schedule their own alerts (for example The most sophisticated service providers embrace all capabilities, aggregating a multitude of reminder, notifications and alert, catering the delivery system to the specific context of the content being delivered thus enabling users to create sophisticated scenarios.

Alerts and Spam

The notion of content being delivered to users has received over the years negative connotation and labeled as spam particularly for information that hasn't been requested by the user. The advent of technologies such as RSS and now Alerts are an effort directed to creating an antithesis to spam: the information being received by users is from 100% opt-in requests.


The Federal Communications Commission in an attempt to help protect citizens is constantly working to improve on their ability to put in place a notification system in case of emergency. The first system was the Emergency Broadcast System, an emergency warning system in the United States, used from 1963 to 1997, when it was replaced by the Emergency Alert System. On April 9, 2008, the FCC approved an emergency alert text-messaging system so Cell phone users can get text message alerts of emergencies.


  • Jones, W. (2008). Keeping Found Things Found: The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management. Burlington, MA: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers. Book info at: Morgan Kaufmann | Amazon ISBN 978-0-12-370866-3
  • Jones, W. & Teevan, J. (Eds.) (2007). Personal Information Management. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. Book info at: University of Washington Press | Amazon ISBN 978-0-295-98737-8
Search another word or see alertson Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature