No discussion of the process of web automation would be complete without ifttt, which I’ve mentioned before. I won’t spend much time on exactly what ifttt is- chances are, if you’re reading this site, you already know, as the service made a fairly big splash when it jumped into the web pool last year. If you’re not familiar, Lifehacker has a great primer. In essence, ifttt is like duct tape for the internet: set a trigger from a connected service (say a favorited Tweet, a tagged photo of you in Facebook, or the imminence of rain) and ifttt will execute an action of your choosing when that trigger is pulled.
For me, this has two distinct advantages: first, it takes slightly more effort to tag an item with “later” than to star it, making sure Readability is not a reflex-driven catch-all bucket: I’d like to be required to put forth a tiny bit of effort to send items to Readability, or the queue will quickly overflow. Second, it allows me to further refine this selectivity to my second recipe:
This allows me to keep an archive separate archive of articles either of simply fantastic writing, or writing that helps articulate my views on a particular subject better than I can. I can’t say enough about this particular process.
Send Google reader items tagged “pinboard” to Pinboard.
Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? This one’s pretty straight-forward: tag an item, it gets added to what I do to use as my catch-all bucket: Pinboard. Ideally, any labels you attach to the link would be mirrored in Pinboard. That feature’s not implemented yet, but ifttt has assured me they’re looking into it.
Send starred Google Reader items as unread items to Pinboard.
I use this recipe for items that aren’t necessarily items, but which I want to check out later- a piece of writing too short to justify Readability, or an app update on a tech blog, a recipe I want to check out. This way, when I go to Pinboard, I can click “unread” to see all these items separately.
Aside: A lot of people use ifttt to back up their tweets to Evernote or a similar service, but I prefer to use Pinboard’s built-in functionality for that.
This is easily one of the most popular recipes, and for good reason: it does what it says on the tin. Every time someone tags you in a photo on Facebook, the photo will be added to a folder of your choosing in Dropbox.
Send voice notes to Evernote.
Another personal favorite: built-in voice recorder functionality is great on most smartphones for quick memory capture, but this takes it one step further and backs them all up to your Evernote account. Ifttt’s voice service is probably the most underused and undervalued features of the service.
Receive a text if the forecast calls for snow or rain tomorrow.
This one speaks for itself- very handy.
Curate a killer Tumblr blog.
This is a fascinating and, let’s face it, super lazy way to curate a great blog. Simply use the RSS trigger to pull in a few feeds from around the web and send them all to a Tumblr blog for a no-fuss way to curate a blog filled with gems of your choosing.
That wraps up my favorite uses for ifttt. If you’re hungry for more, here’s a few more recipes lists from sites I trust:
Of course, arguably the best collection is from ifttt itself via the popular recipes page.