Basically Linux virtual desktop system with additional way to quick glance at updates. Programs should provide updates on their content, e.g. skype. Then the glance-desktop widget would listen changes on different virtual desktops and put updates on a queue. User then could have filter mechanisms for those updates.
User would read updates by one interface action, e.g. button combination. That would trigger the glance widget which would show the updated window in current virtual desktop. By another action, user gets the next update until he has gone through all of them. Alternatively user can decide to go to the virtual desktop where update occured. He could also "lock" the preview window so that he can have basic IO with it.
User can also see scaled down versions of the all updated virtual desktops. So he can quickly just see what updates there is. No need to respond necessarily.
User's friend sends message on IRC. After a short time, another friend sends picture in Skype.
User presses shortcut-key, and sees the preview window of IRC screen in his current virtual desktop. He reads the message and decides to say "that's fine by me", and clicks "next"-key and sees the Skype window, accepts the file send request, and after that pressing next-key hides the glance widget.