July 27th, 2012

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The killer app for IFTTT?

Today's email contained the latest update from IFTTT ("if this, then that", the previously-mentioned service that takes events from online service A and posts them to online service B as you tell it to). As usual, it's describing a new channel, but this one's interesting. Whereas these announcements are usually new technologies, this one's short-burn and well-timed: the Olympics Notification Channel, from ESPN.

It's a simple, clever idea. ESPN generates notifications for a number of different things you might care about: when your country wins a medal (or just a gold medal); when a record is broken; when a search term of your choosing fires; etc. IFTTT then forwards that notification to wherever the heck you want, from Facebook to Twitter to your phone's notification bar. You get the feed you want, where you want.

This may well be IFTTT's killer app (or at least, an illustration of it). The thing is, each individual notification channel is easy enough: companies build these sorts of notifications all the time. But as one-offs, they're a pain in the ass both for the company and the consumer -- lots of reinventing the wheel, and extra sign-ins. But if I'm already signed up for IFTTT, it's trivially easy for me to add one of these feeds: easy enough that I might do so, and I don't even *care* that much. IFTTT means that you can add *one* API, and get notifications for *dozens* of services.

Neat stuff, and illustrative of the tool's power. My sense is that IFTTT is one of those key infrastructure tools (one that I'm likely to want for Querki, if and when it's successful enough). This is a good illustration of why -- it has network effects out the wazoo...

ETA: Okay, what the heck -- it's an excuse for me to try out Pushover, and do something real with IFTTT. Here's my recipe.
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Reminder: time to go support the walking ladies!

As most of you who know them are probably aware, ladysprite and tpau have been working for well over a year on their fundraising for the Komen 3-Day Walk, as Team Shadow. As of this morning, they've cracked $10,000 in money raised, a remarkable job.

And now, the weekend is upon us! The two of them are walking 60 miles as the capstone to their fund-raising. So now it's our chance to pitch in and help. The job is easy: come and do some cheerleading.

That was the focus of my day today: since I'm on sabbatical and can do it more easily than most on a Friday, umbran asked me to come cheer today. Frankly, it was a hoot. I started the day in Wellesley, and spent a couple of hours there. I got to chat with a few of the other folks cheering, who were an interesting mix. (The most interesting being Bob, The Pink Angel. He's maybe 70, dressed in a frilly pink shirt and hula skirt, pink angel wings, and bright gold pom-poms. He would do a little dance on the sidewalk in front of each bunch of walkers as they came along.) I got handed a couple of Thunderstix, convenient noisemaker balloons to save your hands from the rigors of hours on end of clapping. And I yelled a lot. And then, after a few afternoon appointments, I went and did it again in Waltham for another hour.

It's a lot of fun: just going and being energetic in a good cause is a great way to spend a day. 60 miles is a *long* ways to walk, and the cheering stations are there to help keep spirits up. They'll only get more important as the weekend drags on -- the third day is a lot harder than the first.

So if you have a few hours this weekend, I urge you to go join in. umbran can probably tell you where and when it would be helpful to show up. (I could tell, driving home today, that tomorrow's route will go through Lexington, but I don't know where the cheering stations will be.) Please come help cheer the walkers as they go through the final stretches!