A while back I started playing around with a service called Ifttt (If this then that). It basically aims to glue the internet together. There are loads of online services out there that we use. Usually though they are siloed in that unless they have expressly decided to integrate with other services we can only use them in isolation. At first this isn’t apparent because everything is integrated with the usual suspects, such as sharing/ liking something on Facebook.
The first one I setup is to post my blog posts to Twitter, I’m sure there is probably a WordPress add on to do this but nowhere near as quick and easy as with Ifttt. This was a while back but I got thinking about it again when I quickly added the #b03 hashtag to the auto generated Tweets for the March blog challenge. The possibilities are really endless with the channels that they have available and they seem to be adding more all the time. They have a list of recipes that is full of actions that others have come up with to give you ideas. The most used one right now is to synchronise your Facebook and Twitter profile pictures, saving you the time to update both. Some other cool ones are: Star an email in gmail to send to Evernote, Backup pictures on Facebook into dropbox, or save email attachments to Dropbox.
Looking through the recipes, it seems like the RSS feed channel is a big enabler right now, as anything being put into any kind of RSS feed can be acted upon.
Currently upon making new posts for AffClicks I am spending a fair amount of time pushing them out through all the social channels and relevant social news top lists like Hacker News, Reddit and Inbound.org, while I don’t think Ifttt is quiet up to the task yet of automating that pipeline it looks to be heading in that direction of taking that work you would usually have to do and fully automating it. Getting the right words down to create valuable content when blogging is the important part, pushing things out to get maximum exposure (what I am usually aiming for with AffClicks based stuff) is the repeatable bit that just takes up a chunk of time.
Investors seem to agree that ifttt has a bright future, recently investing $1.5 million dollars to further fund development. As developers, we tend to look to automate everything in our workflows that we are able to, giving us more time to focus on the parts that matter. So a service like this naturally appeals to us. What will be interesting is whether this can cross the chasm and gain a mainstream following with regular internet users, as the TechCrunch article mentions:
The simple, big-text interface has managed to guide a wide variety of users through it and get them hooked but some pieces of it. But it still has some rough edges. Some pieces, like the curly brackets section for setting up detailed actions, can be confusing to people who aren’t familiar with programming.