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If This Then That (IFTTT) launched in September 2011 promising to be the “gaffer tape that holds the internet together”. This means various social media, cloud archives and even physical internet enabled products (a full list of channels here) can be connected together with simple instructions and without learning code.

In practice

Automated online activity which would require you to wrangle with the unwieldy Yahoo Pipes or the intimidating Mac Automator, is given a user-friendly interface. You can also share your favourite ‘recipes’ and allow people to use them. I use them a lot to allow for a more organic duplication of social media. For example, every image that I ‘favourite’ on Instagram automatically drops into Tumblr (under the Instagram tag) or when a new photo is uploaded by me to Flickr it also uploads them to a gallery on my Facebook page. Pictures are the currency of these social media channels and spreading them across platforms increases their exposure and engagement.

How it helps you

The reason I decided to post about this web application is because of the announcement last week Google is to discontinue its RSS Reader service after July 2013. Since I’ve been experimenting with Feedly as a replacement and implementing a process that doesn’t leave me relying too heavily on a single provider. News stories that I like are saved to Pocket from within Feedly and then from Pocket they’re piped with IFTTT to my Delicious and Pinboard bookmarks. This way I can organise my favourite stories and primary sources without depending on one web service. There are other recipes that could help your working life such as this which (once it allows for UK calls) would let you to effectively dial in a short story. If you were sending back photos or videos from a mobile phone you could speed publish across multiple platforms or notify a desk editor automatically. You can also sync certain documents with Google Drive or even use Google Drive to collect data on a single spreadsheet which might be useful for Data Journalism.

Drawbacks

Although there are 60 active channels on IFTTT with 433,065 tasks created by users in its first year it can be frustrating when you realise that your new app is not included. Particularly disappointing for me is Google Plus’s refusal to let people automate its updates (pages or personal) or Twitter’s restriction of their API. This platform really depends on an open internet.

Summary

A simple way of controlling your web and mobile activity.

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