Efficiency, The Web 2.0 Way

Great news for cultural institutions: your forays into Web 2.0 just got way easier!

I just heard about a website, ifttt.com, which basically streamlines your social media “blurbs.”

(Side note: what is the word for one unit of social media content? A “tweet” is on twitter, a “post” is on a blog or Facebook…but someone needs to coin a term for units of general social media output. Can we make this happen?)

Ifft is an automated system based on “tasks” that create bridges between websites and are constructed in an “if this…then that” format (thus the site’s t-heavy name). If my organization posts a picture on Facebook then tweet it as well. If someone comments on my institution’s Flickr picture then add that person automatically to our contact list.

A large concern with cultural institutions using social media-especially smaller organizations with limited staff- is the time commitment. Are we spending too much time on this social media project that may or may not garner tangible, meaningful, or productive results? Is our limited staff’s time (and budget) being wasted on something that is going to get washed up in a few years when Web 3.0 emerges?

While I cannot answer these hypotheticals, it seems that ifttt presents at least a partial solution that will streamline the “social media process” for organizations. But ifft’s functionality is not limited only to bridging gaps between social media outlets. Users have already created and shared a myriad of tasks, including many which are not related to social media at all. Here’s one that I find to be particularly pragmatic: “If it is supposed to rain in the next few hours then send me an email telling me to bring an umbrella.” (This task links between your local weather page and your email account.)

The potential for creating useful tasks is really rather endless and I see this as an opportunity for collaboration between museum/cultural institution/non-profit professionals. We can make and share tasks that prove useful in our daily work flows, things like creating and distributing contact lists or maybe even for event promotion: If someone RSVPs to our event on Facebook then send that person a  message with a reminder the day before the actual event.

All we need are some creative individuals to brainstorm tasks that will be useful, time-saving, and result-generating for small institutions that have limited staffs and resources. So…get thinking!

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