IFTTT is a web service that you can use to chain together other web services ("channels" in IFTTT parlance) into what IFTTT calls "recipes". When an event or action occurs on one service it allows you to trigger an event or action in another service. For instance, you can set up IFTTT to watch your RSS feed so when you publish a new blog post, IFTTT will post a link to the post on Twitter automatically. IFTTT also has a free iOS app that allows you to create recipies from your iPhone and adds triggers for iOS system apps, like Photos and Contacts, and for iOS features like location services.
I've always liked the idea of tracking my digital trail partly as a means of remembering what I did on a particular day but also simply because I enjoy fiddling with data. With IFTTT, I have created a plaint-text journal that automatically logs data from multiple services in the background to a fully text-searchable document in Dropbox.
The key to my daily log is IFTTT's "Append to text file" Dropbox action. With it, you can pull data from a whole host of services and let IFTTT write to a text file in the background.
Currently I have IFTTT log the following:
- the daily weather forcast
- my Twitter posts
- my daily weight
- photos I post to Instagram and Flickr
- articles I favorite in Instapaper
- Pinboard links
- songs scrobbled on Last.fm
- full text of my blog posts to squibits.com
- Watch later and liked videos on Vimeo and YouTube
- App.net posts
- the full text of reviews of my iOS apps
- Foursquare check-ins
- GitHub notifications
The result is a firehouse of my digital tracks across the web, which looks something like this:
@johnvoorhees : @viticci Really remarkable they can handle a site with MacStories’ traffic. That’s great. via Twitter http://ift.tt/1mT4lR6 January 24, 2014 at 05:55PM - - - - - Parquet Courts - He's Seeing Paths Album: Light Up Gold + Tally All The Things That You Broke Scrobbled: January 24, 2014 at 05:47PM via Last.fm http://ift.tt/1hjty3H - - - - - Mini vMac - early Macintosh emulator If you want to emulate a classic Mac on your modern Mac in something nicer than a browser, Mini vMac is your best bet via Pinboard http://ift.tt/Lwz9nm January 24, 2014 at 03:54PM - - - - -
Setup is simple:
1. If you haven't done so already, sign up for an IFTTT account at ifttt.com and Dropbox at dropbox.com.
2. Because your plain-text journal entries will write to Dropbox, I suggest setting the IFTTT Dropox channel up first, but the order is not important. To activate the Dropbox channel, go to the channels section on ifttt.com and follow the instructions to link your Dropbox account to IFTTT.
3. Next, create a folder somewhere in your Dropbox. Mine is called "Daily Data". You can also create an empty text file for your journal, but if you do not, IFTTT with create one for you.
4. You also need to set up each of the IFTTT channels you want to feed into your journal, which is similar to the process of linking your Dropbox account to IFTTT.
5. The final step is to create an IFTTT recipe for each of the service you will use for you journal. IFTTT walks you through the process letting you choose the data you want to pull as the "if" portion of each recipe.
6. The key for your journal is getting the "that" portion of the recipe correct. Choose "append to text file" from the Dropbox actions and making sure you point to the Dropbox folder you set up for your journal.
When you are finished you should have something that looks like the following recipe that I set up for Last.fm:
That's all there is to it. The beauty of using plain text files is their small size. Since mid-October my IFTTT rules have generated a 60,000 word text file that is still less than 500 KB.
Of course, there is always more than one way to skin a cat. If you would prefer to pipe the same types of data to a journaling app, a great choice is Day One, which is available on iPhone, iPad and the Mac. To automate getting your data into Day One, check out Brett Terpstra's Slogger service.
UPDATE: To avoid your plain text journal from being overwritten by IFTTT, set up a Hazel rule to periodically change the name of your text file. I have a Hazel rule that prepends the date to the file on the first day of the month. The next time an IFTTT rule fires and wants to right to your journal, it will create a new file with the name you previously picked and use that until your Hazel rule changes the name of the file again.
Also, IFTTT now works with Automatic, the car dongle that tracks your driving via bluetooth and a companion app. I've added it to my plain text journal as a way to remember where I've been and track my gas milage and spending.