I don't remember a time when I never wondered: How does that work?
Equally I cannot recall a moment when I have not wondered: and what if?
I fondly recall, how avidly as an eleven year old, I read through my first hardback, proudly bought with my own pocket money, entitled 1000 questions and 1000 answers.
Except I was never really satisfied that the answers were the whole story because invariably more queries would arise from tales of science, history, fables of the reconstruction, and assorted factoids.
I've often found the downside to a curious mind is dissatisfaction at the endless pursuit of knowledge because the more you know, the more you know that you don't quite know.
The upside to being mentally wrestless are those times when you can actually exercise your imagination, experiment with stuff, be it physical or virtual and enjoy the results like the admen above or the band below.
So if I rewind back to the time that I was preparing for my final degree exams when the album cover of Green adored my bedroom, I devised a set of weights and pulleys, connected to rope and various pieces of windsurf kit, a kettle, the record player, the duvet and the curtains, that were all wired and set for the daily call of the maid alarm.
The Maid Alarm
Every morning without fail, the maid would knock hard on the door of every student in the dormitory.
Normally I would ignore the loud knock at the door, emit a murmur, continue asleep and typically be late for a lecture, but in an effort to awaken for exam week my convoluted dorm setup worthy of applause by Rube Goldberg, was sensitively set so that the mere stroke of a welsh knuckle at the door would set off a frenzy of interconnected wires, rope and weights that would immediately begin the begin:
- slam open the door
- lift the duvet off me at it's four corners to the ceiling
- start the record player at What's the Frequencey Kenneth at max volume
- whoosh open the curtains for a full blaze of Gower sun
- drop a brick onto a switch to boil the kettle at full steam
It was a system, that according to my engineering dorm mates was technically described as "effing brilliant" - I did not major in engineering - but one which my philosophy friends just queried with a dismissive "why effing bother?"
Well, if I had a photo of the contraption now, it might fit somewhere more at home in the pages of the delightful blog post that goes to the soul of the service called IFTTT. Sadly I don't so I'll shamelessly display the modern classic of Cog by Honda. If you like that you'll also like The Making of Cog.
IFTTT to put the internet to work
If this then that, IFTTT is a joyfully created service that allows you to meddle like a mad student in an informational internet kind of way that helps you do stuff.
If IFTTT had a object hero it might probably be a straight bit of wire, bent into a shape that binds paper together - aka the paperclip. (Is it paper clip or paperclip?)
I work with programmers, infact I'm sometimes guiltly of programming myself and often I find they, programming minds, revel when you can articulate what you need to happen when such a such thing is entered, or done here, to make that stuff get sent there and so on.
Be it with a whiteboard stuffed with arrows, an ugly mockup, a set of sentences or a load of yellow posticks on a huge sheet of paper the great thing about working with software developers is not developing the software but developing the ideas that power it.
You see software is not always just task driven steps to addressing functional needs, it should be fun, like this:
IFTTT is a service that allows you to control the input and the output.
Similar to Yahoo Pipes, but with an even more unambivalent interface and simplicity to boot, IFTTT really is Automatic for the People.
IFTTT can really be part of your internet filter. You're only limited by your imagination ma boy.
Want something to happen for you when something else happens on the internet? Yep, step this way.
So maybe that sounds vague? Well how about if you - the decisive non programmer - define the something and the happen?
Want your Dropbox to Tweet you when someone shares or amends a file? You can do that.
Get a text message when it comment is left on a blog you moderate? Yep.
There's a tonne of cool IFTTT ideas out there, some are listed here.
You just start imaging and think out aloud as you point click and paste your wishes on the pigeon step simple web page of IFTTT.com
Given how unfashionable and how repeatedly dead RSS is declared to be, with IFTTT you'll defintely redevelop an orange crush on the sites that sport it because RSS really allows you to weave all sorts of magic together.
And with RSS you don't always need any old monkey to help you, but it can be useful.
You can sign up to use IFTTT by invite only at the moment but as I have a few spare you won't have to lose your religion to get one.
How do I get an IFTTT invite?
Just tell me which musical titles of what band are referenced in this blog post.
I'm all ears. Comments or tweets welcome.
And if you're still not feeling inspired....