George has written twice here about IFTTT, the webservice that automates conversation among various other web applications, saving you time performing (and reperforming) relatively mundane tasks. Last September George wrote about how to use IFTTT, and earlier this month he described how to use the service to archive tweets. I’ve been using the service for awhile myself, and have found a few useful recipes I wanted to share. I’ll share these recipes in several posts in the next weeks.
Today I want to talk about how you can use IFTTT to automatically aggregate posts from mulitple blogs into one. IFTTT can be configured to grab all the posts from one blog and copy them to another, or to monitor certain keywords and only copy posts that include those keywords. IFTTT can also add boilerplate text and “addins” (e.g. entry title, entry date, entry URL) to the new post, so that readers on the second site can get information about where the post originated.
Why might you want to automate this kind of copying? There are many possibilities, including:
- You write for several online publications and would like to gather all of your writing in one place. This is why I developed these IFTTT tasks. I write for ProfHacker, of course, but I also have an individual scholarly blog and a separate development blog for one of my digital projects. I wanted my individual blog to reflect the entirety of my scholarly blogging, and so created tasks that aggregate my ProfHacker and project development posts on my individual blog. Visitors there will see all of the writing I’ve done online lately, with links to the original posts when they appeared elsewhere.
- An inverse of the reason above: perhaps you want to gather the output of various scholars in a single blog around a particular scholarly topic, working group, or so on. This IFTTT task would allow you to aggregate all the contributors’ posts, or only those including particular topics or phrases.
- You have a class blogging assignment in which students create their own blogs, but you want to aggregate all of their posts on a single course blog as well. I’ve not tried IFTTT for this purpose yet, but it should work. You might even assign each student to create an IFTTT task for this purpose in order to teach them how to do so.
Certainly IFTTT can save you time manually copying posts from one location to another, and doing so creates an archive of your work in one location. If you’re also backing up that central blog, then your content will be that much more secure.
You can find my ProfHacker –> personal blog recipe here. My receipe for my development blog is similar, but doesn’t include a particular keyword—it just grabs every post, since those are all written by me.
I’ll share another IFTTT recipe next week. In the meantime, do you do anything to gather the threads of your online work? Tell us about what you do in the comments.