Tools for Transparency: If This Then That

by is an innovative web service that helps you automate web-based tasks based on certain ‘triggers.’  From

Have you ever wished that you could call in status updates to Facebook? How about getting an SMS notification when something you have been looking for posts to Craigslist? Want to post a Tweet every time that someone uploads a picture to a specific gallery on Flickr? You can do that as well. You can even daisy-chain tasks together to create a slew of actions from a single trigger.

And a quick overview on how the service works: overview from The Next Web on Vimeo.

You can quickly see how this could be quite useful by automating some of your daily tasks.

But, how could you use this to help the transparency cause?  A few of the more obvious ways include setting up alerts around certain key words (like “campaign finance” or the names of bills or lawmakers you’re watching) that then send you a note by SMS or instant message.  You could save certain tagged photos from Flickr, Facebook or Instagram to your Dropbox account, or make sure to not miss important blog posts or news items by having them sent to Pinboard or Read it Later. You could even have key events added instantly to Google Calendar that you find online.

I could go on about all the possibilities, but iftt adds new services so regularly, it’s hard to keep up with. (A good excuse to get creative!) If you want to find out more, check out the ifttt category on Quora as well as some of the tasks highlighted there. Unfortunately the service is in beta but you can sign up for an account here.