The New York Times has now opened a channel at the website If This, Then That (IFTTT). For journalism hackers and tinkering readers, this is fine news.
IFTTT is elegantly useful and usefully elegant. For a variety of sites and services (Evernote! Instagram! Dropbox!), IFTTT combines "triggers" and "actions," so that when one thing happens on one service, something else happens on another. You can say, if I take a picture on Instagram, then automatically save it to Dropbox.
It even connects to SMS, so you can say: If it begins to rain in my zipcode, then text me about it.
(You can even share these if-then procedures as "recipes," which are, in fact, what I've linked to here.)
And now you can do that for the fervid rainforest of data that is the New York Times. The Times IFTTT channel gives you five triggers to work with, five if's:
- A new article is published in a section.
- Any article becomes one of the site's most popular.
- A specific search finds a new article.
- Any movie becomes a Times's "Critic's Pick."
- A new event occurs in a specific category.
So you can say: If the Times writes about my company, then text me about it. Or: If a search for "sea cucumbers" reveals a new article, automatically post that article to classyseacucumbers.tumblr.com.