If This, Then That: Simple Media Programming

I have a tendency to want to keep my gravy out of my peas — control issues, I know. This makes me work to keep my social media in silos as much as possible, fearing, I suppose, the further loss of privacy if Facebook gossips to Twitter about me and vice versa. The devil — or the deity, if you prefer — is in the intersections, the linkages, the relationships.

This desire for some crafted anonymity or at least a tad of privacy is a forlorn hope, I realize, if I’m online and tweeting, blogging, “plus”-ing and the like, whether or not the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. And it seems that folks younger than me, which is to say most folks by far, are blithely uncaring about privacy when it comes to social media: the more the merrier and let it all connect.

In that spirit, IFTTT (“if this, then that”) has launched an intriguing set of functionalities that allow you to explicitly establish linkages among your online activities to suit your particular needs. These linkages are, in effect, simple programs established on the coding model “if this, then that.” So, for example, I can tell IFTTT that if I star an item in Google Reader, then send a note of that item to my Evernote account; or, if my Facebook profile picture changes, then change my Twitter photo to the new one also.

The units that you get to control are your social media accounts, which IFTTT calls “channels,” and there are some 40 of them (Twitter, Facebook, email, LinkedIn, your telephone, etc. etc.). Channels are connected via “recipes,” IFTTT’s term for the condition and action parts of the program. There’s no list of which actions are available or permissible, so far as I can tell, though there’s a long list of “recipes” cooked up by others that will give you a pretty fair idea of what’s possible. As you build your own recipe, the site offers you the various options available. When you’ve done, you’ve created a “task” that will execute itself.

I’ve only begun to explore what might be useful to me or, indeed, to those in the legal professions. But off the top of my head, it seems that you might want to keep a record of your tweets (which Twitter won’t do for you); in which case a task that archives your tweets to another app so that you’ve got a good record of what you’ve said and when you said it might make sense. (As might the ability to trigger your phone to ring when you send a text message — if you find yourself in a lot of meetings.)

Take a look at see what you can come up with. Let us know by way of a comment if you cook up a recipe that might be of interest to others. Peas can taste good with gravy on them.

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