IFTTT: A Useful Web Aggregator

First, IFTTT stands for if-this-then-that. This is one of the bedrock formulations of both logical thought and computer programing. And how does one even say that? According to the IFTTT website, it’s pronounced like “lift” without the “L”.

Basically, IFTTT allows you to integrate actions across different websites. As the website explains, “recipes” (think of them like formulas or orders) are broken down into “triggers” (the precipitating action) and “results” (what will actually happen). You can either create your own recipes or use recipes from the larger IFTTT user community. These recipes are then sorted by channels, allowing you to quickly find recipes for interacting with popular websites. So, for example, you can find an IFTTT recipe stating “if I place a file in a designated folder in my Dropbox account, [then] email my friend,” “if I upload a picture to Facebook, [then] upload it to Flickr,” or “if I post a tweet, [then] save it as .txt in my Dropbox folder.”

You can find recipes for Blogger, Delicious, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Facebook Pages, Google Reader, Storify, WordPress and YouTube, among many others. Some of the recipes repeat functions found in the websites themselves. I don’t see a need for an IFTTT recipe for “if I have an appointment, [then] text me” if you’re a Google calendar user since Google calendar already has that feature. However, some recipes seem very useful – if you’re using Twitter in the classroom this is one way to create an archive or re-tweet important items. Or, if your students are completing a group project, there some great file sharing and communications recipes that might facilitate cooperation.

IFTTT recipes don’t stop with websites – you can also find recipes related to phone calls and text messages. I’m a real fan of things like “if the forecast in my city changes to rain, [then] text me.”  I’m still waiting for the recipe that says “If it’s a day that ends in -y, [then] order a cupcake to be delivered to my office.” Alas.

If you’re like to read more about IFTTT, you can check out Inside Higher Ed or ProfHacker (The Chronicle of Higher Education).

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