Behind on news? Use IFTTT for auto-curated content
March 7, 2014 - Tech
I’m a big online news reader, as well as a news “saver” — meaning I love going through dozens of articles and saving several (to Pocket) so I can read them later in the subway, in bed, or waiting in line.
Lately, I’ve been getting alot of my articles of interest from Twitter, but having to scroll through the noise to get the pieces I’m interested in is getting annoying. If you get some of your news from Facebook, you’re probably running across the same issue. There had to be a better way of sorting through the firehose of information (Twitter Lists don’t help).
I thought: how can I save the news that I am the most interested in, and most efficiently? And is there a way I could automate it?
Most websites focus on a particular topic: tech or baseball, crafting or business or design.
And based on our interests, we all have favorite websites we like to visit, but rarely do we have the time or interested enough to go through every single article. On that note, we don’t want to save every single article, so how do we curate content based off our interests from our favorite website?
Many sites put up a summary of daily links or news items from “around the web” collected into one post, or they’ll post a weekly “most popular posts” summarizing the best from the last 7 days.
In a nutshell, the editors of these sites are curating news from their own site and from outside websites – listing out the news items they think are the most interesting to share with their demographic. It’s not perfect, but when a website you favor chooses news items of interest and collects them, that’s a good start for curated. niched content.
If done well, the result is the best topic-specific, human-curated content. So, if my favorite sites are posting these summaries, how could I automatically extract them and save them?
IFTTT Saves the Day (Again)
IFTTT is powerful because it allows you to connect to the internet in creative ways. With some tweaking, a “recipe” could be created that would identify these news summaries and save them to my Pocket.
If you’ve never used IFTTT, then you’ll need to sign up and connect your Pocket. Once you’ve registered, create a recipe and follow the 7 steps below.
- Choose “FEED” trigger channel
- Choose “New feed item matches” trigger
- Enter the keyword or phrase that your website uses for their daily summaries. For example, Towleroad.com always prefaces their news summaries with “NEWS:“. The key here is to trigger IFTTT without pulling articles you don’t want. The great thing about Towleroad, they only use NEWS: (with a colon) with their news summaries. After you’ve picked your trigger word(s)/phrase, add the RSS feed from the site.
- Choose “POCKET” action channel
- Choose “Save for later“
- Complete Action Fields (I leave as is)
- Preview your recipe. Everything look good? CREATE RECIPE!
Now whenever that keyword/phrase shows up on that website, it’ll automatically saved for later. And when you go into the article, you can pick and choose the articles you want to read more about. Scroll down to see some of the recipes I created with IFTTT.
For me, my interests are in tech, Asian-America, LGBT, New York, San Francisco, basketball, and entertainment. I took some of my favorite websites and created the following IFTTT recipes to catch up on my news. Click on each to access the IFTTT recipe:
- Angry Asian Man | Read These Blogs | Asian-American News
- Towleroad | News | LGBT
- New York Times | New York Today | New York
- Ball Don’t Lie | 10-Man Rotation | Basketball
- SFist | Day Around the Bay | San Francisco
- Dlisted | Afternoon Crumbs | Sassy Gossip
- Mashable | Other News You Need To Know | Tech
- Mental Floss | Morning Cup of Links | Random Stuff
- OMG Blog | OMG, Gossip | Entertainment Gossip
- LifeHacker | This Week’s Most Popular Posts | Life
- Curbed SF | AM Linkage | San Francisco News
- Angry Asian Man | This Week’s Angriest Posts | Asian-American
- Curbed NY | Linkage | New York News
- Grantland | Afternoon Links | “Hollywood Prospectus”
- The Lo-Down | Morning Reads | Lower East Side news
- Beijng Cream | Links | China News
Surprisingly, I haven’t found that many tech sites that have these “items from around the web”. In order to get the most coverage, I recommend 3-4 of these custom recipes per topic. If you have other recipes that work, send them over in the comments.