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We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the emptiness of the center hole that makes the wagon move.
We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.
IFTTT is the great connector service that allows us to program simply ‘if this then that’ logic so that when I favorite a tweet it is posted on my Tumblr blog, and thousands of other connectrons (like neurons, get it?) between the apps that channel our postnormal lives.
Now it gets realworldy. IFTTT now supports location (at least on iOS) so you can make things happen when you enter or exit a geofenced area.
Here’s my new rule, which sends an email to my family member when I get close to Cold Spring NY’s train station. This is only relevant when I am headed north, coming home from the city, so they can perhaps pick me up if we arranged it, or just be aware of the time so they can predict my likely time of arrival.
I’d rather send an SMS, but IFTTT only supports sending one to myself, alas. There is a mechanism for Google Talk, but it requires more fooling
And About Those To Dos
What I want, though, is to be able to alert myself to do things when I am at the right location. For example, to open Todoist on my iPhone when I get close to the grocery store and pop open a task called ‘grocery list’.
In fact, what would be metagood would be a meta rule that when I enter any other following list of locations, IFTTT would pop open any tasks tagged with the name ‘<location name> list’. That would work for the Artisan Wine store (‘artisan wine store list’) as well as the grocery (‘key food list’).
And The Things Meets Social World
Yes, if I had a smart house I’d program rules for them, like unlocking and locking doors when I moved in and out of the zone near my house, and turning on/off the lights.
That last one suggests IFTTT would have to be become more social than it is today. For example, turning off the lights when I leave the area near my house if fine unless someone is in the kitchen making lunch. The logic would have to either default to implicit overrides or explicit ones, like ‘turn off the lights in the kitchen when I leave the area around my house unless someone else turned them on’.
IFTTT is likely headed down this road, and it makes me more interested in fooling with smart devices in the home, because what I have read to date about controlling smart devices makes my stomach hurt.
And what about other social and thingy rules?
Opens up a potential can of worms — stalking, etc — but has obvious upsides, too.
There’s probably some fun design fiction in here, like the story of two teenage lovers forbidden to see each other that used IFTTT geofence rules to send messages. There exchange permissions to control each other’s smart devices (unbeknownst to the parents), and communicate what they are doing by turning on and off certain lights, and turn up the heat to indicate horniness. Their IFTTT romance is broken up when a repair guy finds the rules in one dad’s IFTTT account. The pair get a final message — ‘the permissions granted to <the other’s IFTTT account name> have been revoked’ — and the heat falls back to normal.
I made a IFTTT rule today to make a text backup of my posts here into a Dropbox folder. Tumblr doesn’t support any mechanism for this.
At some point in the future IFTTT or someone else might support importing such text files, if I ever needed to move off (gasp) Tumblr. Although if Tumblr got involved in an Instagram-like mess, I bet specialized tools would pop up to migrate.
I’m already backing up Instagram posts (moot, now that I’ve switched to Flickr), and Buffer traffic.
[Update: 3:29pm - Recipe never triggers. I have a support email in to IFTTT.]
To the extent that anyone was using the Socialcast work media tool to post into the Twitter stream, they won’t be any longer:
Twitter Compatible API: The Socialcast Twitter Compatible API allowed people to view a Socialcast stream, and post updates from within various Twitter Clients such as TweetDeck. On August 30, 2010, Twitter changed their approach and modified their Terms of Service. Twitter now requires that client developers adhere to “third party content” guidelines that drastically limit the ability for Twitter Clients to consume content from services like Socialcast. Due to these changes to Twitter’s Terms of Service, Socialcast will cease support for the Socialcast Twitter Compatible API on October 1, 2012.
Note: The Twitter Feed import capability is not affected by this change.
Basically, Twitter thinks it owns everything that anyone puts into the stream, and it has to stay there. Period.
This is almost as crazy as blocking IFTTT.
ifttt is quietly building an arsenal of powerful small tools that are making them the duct tape of the social web. Just as specific tools like hammers, chisels, saws and APIs are great in the hands of a skilled craftsman/developer, duct tape can fit the bill for connecting anything to anything for the numerous unskilled. The ifttt repository for Tumblr might be where David & the Tumblr Crew mine for clues/ambassadors as they begin to embrace the developer community to create tools for the masses.
I use ifttt to work around the inoperable import-posts-from-rss feature of tumblr, for example. I have a blog called Upstreamed which I follow here at stoweboyd.com, and I have set up a ifttt recipe for new posts of non-tumblr blogs I want to follow are posted to Upstreamed. Then the posts show up in my Tumblr stream, as if Tumblr supported the idea of following non-tumblr blogs.
Thanks to the new cross-connection tool, If This Then That, I set it up so that tweets that I favorite are posted to my stoweboyd.com Tumblr account. Yesterday one of those posts was curated as a top #tech post.
I am still in need of better curation tools, but ifttt.com helps a lot.
I heard about a service called ifttt.com (If This Then That), that provides an amazing service. It allows a ‘if-then’ sort of integration between common web services, like Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and many others.
I used it to do a few things. Most specifically, I set up an account and twiddled thinigs so that I everytime I create a Delicioius bookmark that is tagged ‘blogworthy’ it will publish that bookmark as a Tumblr link post on stoweboyd.com.
Here’s an image of the ‘task’ I created:
Apologies for the faintness of the various parameters above. The tool wizards you through creating tasks, asking you to connect to the various services as needed. I attached to my Delicious account — which I have just started using again — as the ‘trigger’ of the task, choosing the hook of a specific tag. I then opted to post the link to my Tumblr account as the ‘action’, selecting the appropriate ‘add-ins’ — possible parameters — for a link post.
The whole thing was a ten minute exercise.
In order to create a similar arrangement for my underpaidgenius blog required me to create a second ifttt account, because the tool is currently limited to supporting a single Tumblr login per account. But now I can post links to a single stoweboyd Delicious account, and based on two different tags I can direct link posts to either of my Tumblr blogs, which is a feature that Tumblr has not seen fit to offer in their bookmarklet editor. And of course, I now have all my links — posted or non-posted — in one place.
Tasks can be converted to ‘recipes’ which are templates that can be used by other ifttt users (minus your account login info, of course). I created some others, like a recipe that posts a tweet to my Tumblr account if I favorite it.
A very cool bit of gasketry.