What is IFTTT?

This is part of a regular series of articles exploring some of the terms used in e-learning (view other articles in the series).  We’ll do our best to break down the jargon and explain what things are from a basic perspective.

if this then thatIFTTT stands for “IF This Then That” and it is a free online service for automating your use of other online services. This is achieved by creating ‘recipes’ that define the action that will be taken when a particular condition is met. Dozens of services are supported, including popular social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn), blog tools (WordPress, Blogger), micro-blogging tools (Twitter, Tumblr), social bookmarking sites (Delicious, Diigo), cloud storage (Dropbox, Skydrive) and Google Apps (Drive, Calendar and Mail). Other useful services include Weather, Date/Time, email, and RSS feeds.

All of these different services mean that there are millions of possible recipes and there are many that users have created and shared for others to adapt. These range from the frivolous (“If it is sunrise now then tweet ‘#GoodMorning’ “) to the genuinely useful (“If I add a file to Dropbox then save a copy in Google Drive“), via the bizarre (“If I’m tagged in a Facebook photo then flash the lights in my house“) and poinless (“If I send IFTTT an email then send me an email back“). Creating your own recipies is very easy and with careful planning it would be possible to create highly complex, multi-step rules, such as LinkedIn updates triggering a post on Twitter, which creates a post on Facebook, which gets logged in a Google Drive spreadsheet.

How might you use it for work?

This will depend on which services you use and how you use them, but some suggestions are:

  • Automatically tweet a link to a resource when you add it to Delicious
  • Scan RSS feeds and add any stories with selected keywords to Instapaper for later reading on a mobile device
  • Send a tweet when you update your LinkedIn profile
  • Add a post to your blog whenever you are mentioned on the BBC website
  • Post a link on a personal blog when you publish a post on a team blog
  • Send yourself a text message before the start of an appointment in your Google Calendar
  • Create a reminder to read any articles that you add to Diigo
  • Add a link to your Feedly ‘ToRead’ list when a new journal paper contains specified keywords

New Blog posts to LinkedInMaintaining an active social media presence is becoming increasingly important for students and tutors, but can become very time-consuming. IFTTT is a way to help automate some of this activity and help you manage the volume of information that other people are adding to these sites.

You need to give IFTTT permission to interact with your other accounts for much of this to work, but you can withdraw permission at anytime. To get started go to http://www.ifttt.com and sign up for an account.

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