Miles of information for medical librarians #medlibs


So I have had this in the draft box for a while, and the recent mention of it at a conference as well as a post by AaronTay reminded me that this was in the draft box along with countless others.

The post on IFTTT was also delayed as I figured out how it worked or if it worked for me. I have been using it on a trial basis for several weeks and I do not think I have even thought of all of the possibilities. This is the best part about IFTTT– the infinite possibilities.

So what is IFTTT?

Sounds great but what does this mean? How do you put the internet to work for you?

IFTTT is just like it sounds, If this then that. So if this happens then do that. It is a very basic tool that is extremely easy to understand, at least the basics are easy.

What have I used it for? Well as I said previously I have not explored all of the features. I have used it mostly for weather alerts so I am not stuck out in the rain when I am biking. IFTTT is reliable… the weather man on the other hand is iffy at best. **Note: tomorrow’s forecast for Columbus, Georgia, is snow. What?!?!**

I have also used it to automatically send tweets to new followers. It is a nice way to say Thank you to new followers without exerting too much effort.

I am trying to work out a way to send a auto thank you to new followers on my blog. If anyone has done this please let me know.

I have also been trying to find a way to autopost to Google+. @ericschnell shared this tweet with me:

@ericschnell: @alisha764 See and Odd solution using G-Voice / Gmail / IFTT, but works

I am not sure if I like this solution. I do not like the idea of using SMS or email to update Google+. I am hoping Hoot Suit makes this possible soon as I heard a rumor it might. I thought with the release of the API Google would release an RSS feed but it seems Google is walling things off instead of opening them up (more on this soon in a Google Reader update).

Another item I am looking at trying is when I star items in Google Reader to sens it over to WordPress as a draft post. My only issues here is I do not know of you can post a draft or if you can use multiple Google Reader accounts.

I have heard many people say they use IFTTT to send items to Facebook or Twitter but I do not and will not. Why?

I really still like using

IFTTT has channels but let’s you take RSS feeds and send them to different routes. It is a little more work to set up. The great thing is you can customize each ‘route’ with filters, add additional text, and my favorite is scheduling.

See how I have set up different routes compared to IFTTT channels:

IFTTT offers channels that are not available in is more for pushing updates or timing updates (you can also schedule future posts). The reason I will continue to use is for the statistics and scheduling.

IFTTT does not have these kinds of statistics. I really enjoy being able to see how effective my shared items are on the various channels. If I see there are not many clicks on a particular item then I can adjust my sharing. The statistics have really helped me improve what I share and how often. It is helping me to reduce the shared items that are just adding ‘noise.’

Speaking of noise IFTTT can create a lot! Think about using the recipe ‘If I star an item in Google Reader then post it to Facebook and Twitter.’ Now picture your typical day. If you are like me then you use Google Reader in spurts. Basically I am reviewing items between search request and other stuff. So if I had IFTTT sending my stared items then there could be 20 posts in 1 hour. Talk about a quick way to overload your followers and for people to ignore your posts.

Yes I said ignore your post. Why? Because I know if I see 5 posts from the same person back-to-back I am less likely to read all of the items. I also like seeing posts from people throughout the day not just all at once during lunch. allows you to schedule the posts and use a ‘trickle off’ feature that will keep posting new items throughout the day even if you starred all of the items during lunch or at 1am. Ok I admit it, I often stay up late blogging, reviewing Google Reader or even… sigh… doing work. But I have yet to join my fellow medlib in watching Billy the Exterminator while finishing search requests and coding late at night:

So while IFTTT is neat for some things, I think I will stick with for pushing updates to social media so my updates go out when most people are online and not 1am.

On the other hand, IFTTT is great for those looking for a quick fix. I have demonstrated IFTTT to several students, residents, physicians and other Healthcare providers.

If you are a student you could have SMS alerts for assignments. Or what about a teacher setting up an scheduled email alert to send out study notes or tips when it gets close to an exam. I could see physicians using it for alerting them about new results for searches, perhaps an alert for free CME, or an SMS so they won’t forget an anniversary. I set it so I will never forget boss’ day… again. (Oops!)

What have you used IFTTT for? Or do you have other suggestions? Would you use instead of IFTTT and why?

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