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Great Tool: If This, Then That (IFTTT)

IFTTT-LogoOf the many tools I’ve come across (and there are many of them), one of the best is a simple tool borne out of a simple programming structure:

“If something happens, do something”

Yes, it’s that simple, but the Internet is not really built around this idea. Social services and other types of Internet-based sites generally require your interaction. What if there was a service that allowed you to automate stuff (just like you might do on your own computer)? This is what iffft does. The future of the Internet is really modelling it to reflect what you’re reading or thinking as closely as possible.

Why would I want to automate?
That’s a great question. The best answer of course, is because it saves you from having to go through mundane tasks repeatedly. One example is the task on IFTTT that I use to text (SMS) me when it’s going to rain the next day (I’ll change it to snow in the winter). This saves me from the very mundane task of checking weather reports before think about riding my motorcycle in the summer, for example.

The uses for things like this are numerous. Tasks that other users have figured out and published are also available as “Recipes” that you can use to create these items quickly and easily.

Some of these are so creepy and impersonal that you probably wouldn’t want to do them anyway. But, in some cases, this might be a way to send out that “Happy New Year” tweet while you’re in a remote country unable to do so from there.

The possibilities really seem endless as far as the kinds of utility that can come from a service like this. I imagine sending an email to a company owner at the end of a day that details al of the company’s social mentions in one  easy-to-use format.

Why not Ping.Fm?
Ping.fm, of course, is the tool that allows you to send a message to a central point (a ping.fm email address) and have that information blasted to multiple social media outlets. They support 50+ as I understand it. The key difference here is interaction and intention. You want to be directly involved in the interaction and response to your work as much as possible. If you were to blog and send it to 50 social media sites – responding to comments on all of them would be difficult. IFTTT is based on a smaller-volume of sites, though much of the same kinds of actions can be performed.

By basing your posts on actions you perform (or actions occurring on the greater Internet), I feel you get closer to what you actually intend and thus make your automated actions more personal. That’s an important factor when others decide to comment or interact with what you might post on Twitter.

So, give it a shot yourself – you might be surprised how useful this is.