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IFTTT – If This Then That – New Way to Visualize Data

One of my biggest issues with the Internet is how there are still a lot of silos.  What do I mean by silo? Programs or applications that work ‘alone’ and don’t share well with other applications.  I am still a big user of RSS despite rumors of it’s demise.  I tend to star items in Google Reader so that I can read them later.  What if I also wanted to read it later and send it to Twitter – or maybe send it to Instapaper? Especially with Instapaper, I would have to go through the trouble of copying the url and then opening up Instapaper and pasting it in there so I could read it later.  It would be nice to have this kind of thing automated.  I’m not a programmer so I end up waiting and relying on much smarter and clever people to create a tool that can do this for me.

Enter IFTTT .  It stands for If This Then That.  And, it’s one of the coolest tools I have seen recently.  I like what the creator of this tool, Linden Tibbets, wrote on the blog about it: “I realized that the key to unlocking the creative potential of our existing digital tools might be to build a service that simplifies and consolidates the way those tools can be connected.”  There is also a great article in the Chronicle which goes into detail about ifttt: How To Use IFTTT (And Why You Might Want To) by George Williams.

So how does it work? Tasks > Trigger > Actions. Triggers and actions come from channels.  Channels mean applications we use all the time like Twitter, Instagram, the Weather Channel (wouldn’t it be awesome if it was going to rain and you could get a text message about it?) Here’s a list of the currently available channels.

First thing, you create a task. Then create a trigger for this task – example: starring items in Google Reader.  What is the action? When I star this item, have it post to my Twitter account.  Done! Now for the graphics

Create the action.

IFTTT Channel





Star the item in Google Reader.

Starring an item in Google Reader

Voila! It posts to Twitter.




This is just one example.  Check it out for yourself!

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