Multiple-mediums contact management

At various times, various companies and groups have tried to come up with a new unified communications system that can replace email, text messages, instant messaging, and all other such systems with one combined tool. The result is usually either that the new tool fails to catch on, or that it becomes yet another example of the proliferation-of-standards problem.

So I don’t think that a unified messaging system is the right solution, but I do think it’s trying to address a real problem. I have multiple ways to contact most of my friends, and keeping track of which ways they prefer, and which options are best for which contexts, is kind of a hassle.

Some people prefer one medium over another. Some people have multiple email addresses, but only check one of them regularly. Some people, if they’re asleep when a message arrives, get woken up by alert sounds from some messaging tools but not from others. Some people prefer secure messaging (like Signal) when possible, but are okay with less-secure approaches when necessary. And sometimes I’ll have different parts of a conversation with the same person in different mediums.

So what I would really like is some kind of automated system for managing all of that complexity. I tell it that I want to contact such-and-such person, and it figures out what the best medium is for contacting that person at that moment, and handles things accordingly. If the person has multiple email addresses, it checks which of those addresses was most recently used to send me email. If the person has accounts on multiple messaging platforms, it keeps track of which platform(s) they prefer, and which one(s) I prefer, and finds something that works for both of us. And so on.

I do a fair bit of this kind of thing manually. With some people, I know which mediums they prefer, and which they hate. With some people, I’ve marked one of their phone numbers or email addresses as “preferred.” And so on.

But I would kinda like to have a tool that would keep track of all that for me, without my needing to remember to manually record or remember it all.

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