ONE of the things that I love doing most with the various websites I use is automating their services.

These automations are usually self-contained within a service or application, the way my Office email sends an auto-reply when I’m not in the office, or how my Twitter account automatically blocks certain users from sending me messages.

With the explosion in the number of services available online, it is increasingly difficult to devote time to each and every one of them. Which is why for me, automating the web is the answer to that problem.

Technology can improve your life, but only if you’re smart and efficient about the way you use it.

Recently, I got an invitation to join the beta version of a new web service simply called “ifttt” ( that brings automating the web to the next level. No, ifttt isn’t a sound you make. It stands for “If This Then That”, referring to the ability to set up rules to automate not just one website or service, but the entire Internet.

You sign up for an ifttt account and then add any number of Internet services that you already use, to it. At the moment, ifttt allows you to choose from 35 different web services such as Facebook,Twitter, Evernote and Delicious.

Once you’ve added your accounts to ifft, you can then start defining triggers (if this) and actions (then that) for your stuff around the web.

For example, a defining trigger might be “if I post a link on Facebook”, which could trigger the action “then also post that link onto Twitter.”

Now, you can already do this through a Facebook app, but the beauty of ifttt is that it creates connections across multiple web services. Not only can you connect stuff to Facebook, but you can ensure that links you post get saved on Evernote, Instapaper or Delicious for reading later or bookmarking too.

Dealing a lot with photos? Every Twitpic you send out can also be saved onto Flickr and you can have it automatically alert your friends on Facebook as well. Want stuff you “Like” on Facebook to automatically be reposted onto your Tumblog? Just ifttt it.

Triggers can also be automated. So for hilarity’s sake, you might just want to link your Twitter account to the “weather” channel on ifttt and set a trigger to 35°C and time an automated tweet that says, “Boy, it sure is hot in here.”

It occurs to me that ifttt might be the next way we interact with the Internet. With more and more services created to meet niche needs, a tool like ifttt becomes a very powerful tool for us to customise how the Internet reacts to our behaviours.

Think about how amazing it will be to simply post a link on Facebook to trigger Dropbox to download a file off the Internet into your account. Or Googling a song can automate the addition of that song to a checkout basket, ready for you to complete the purchase.

There’s simply so much to be explored where mixing and matching are concerned. Indeed, this seems to be the intention of ifttt.

In a blogpost, founder Linden Tibbets writes: “I hope that an adventurous few can find cool ways to use ifttt right now and still others will let me know about how they would like to use it in the future.”

I agree. Ifttt is an incredibly cool tool that’s giving us a chance to make the Internet pretty much our own. I’m really looking forward to see this come out of beta and having millions more people interact and experiment with it.

q David Lian has five ifttt beta invites left to give away. If you want one, tweet him at

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