Meet @icanhazAC. What does it do?
This is a Twitter account which controls and reports on the current state of our apartment’s air conditioner. For example, here is what it tweets whenever it turns on:
It’s made possible by two things:
- WeMo, a digital power switch, which lets us control the power to the air conditioner remotely. Belkin has shipped an iOS app which controls the WeMo and thus toggles the power to whatever is plugged in.
- If This Then That (IFTTT), a webservice which links together various APIs, including WeMo’s. Here’s where it gets fun, since IFTTT allows us to add other functions:
- Tweet from the handle in order to change state (turn on/off)
- Send out automated tweets when the AC is turned on/off
- Toggle the AC based on time of day
- Text to IFTTT to turn on/off the AC
1) Tweet from the handle in order to change state (turn on/off) A tweet from @icanhazAC with either #ACon or #ACoff will take the appropriate action. If the machine is already on/off, then no action will be taken.
2) Send out automated tweets when the AC is turned on/off Our friend @icanhazAC will also alert us when someone else takes an action on the AC. More specifically, it will tweet whenever the AC is switched on (with the text you see at the top of this post) or when it is switched off it will let us know it is taking a nap:
3) Toggle the AC based on time of day
IFTTT has its own syntax around Recipes, Triggers, Actions and Channels. In short, you create a Recipe which looks for a Trigger and then completes an Action based on the Channels (services) which you have paired to IFTTT. In order to accomplish the time of day task with IFTTT, for example, the WeMo and Date & Time Channels must be activated. Then, you can enable automation such as daily routines. (Note: you can actually set-up time-based actions with WeMo
4) Text to IFTTT to turn on/off the AC
Another IFTTT Channel is SMS. With the SMS Channel enabled, I can text to the AC with very low latency to turn it off
if I forget to do so on the way out the door or to turn it on
just as I am getting out of the subway a few blocks away so that when I enter the apartment it’s a bit cooler. #SummerConsiderations
To some, this entire project may seem a bit frivolous. And in some ways, it totally is. First and foremost, to me this is something really fun to geek out about. However, I think this is part of two larger trends:
- Objects tweeting their view of the world
- Personal analytics
First, look at the #London2012 Olympics cameras or @NBABackboardCam
that captured awesome moments in sports. These have far richer content than my air conditioner but show how #ObjectsThatTweet is a trend.
Second, look at examples
like Steven Wolfram (of Wolfram|Alpha) and his measurement of his personal analytics
. He started with email but it became so much more (phone calls/meetings/exercise).
At the high level, the next step for @icanhazAC
is for it to learn my daily routine (like this
) or parse my calendar (like Google Now
) to turn on/off without my needing to set-up these IFTTT Triggers. I think the idea of controlling and recording my AC is a first step towards this greater trend of monitoring items in one’s life and tailoring them to one’s needs.
Tags: #london2012, #objectsthattweet, Actions, air conditioning, automation, belkin, cameras, Channels, ifttt, olympics, personal analytics, Recipes, SMS, sports, steven wolfram, Triggers, Twitter, weather, wemo
Identity and the Web is a big thing these days. People talk about it a lot.
Wrapped up in identity’s importance is the question of how we tie a public, digital persona back to a living, breathing human.
So along comes a New York Times piece about teens sharing passwords with each other as a sign of trust in their burgeoning relationships. This may seem only relevant to “spurned boyfriend [...] trying to humiliate an ex-girlfriend” in junior high school but it makes sense more generally. When so much of your individual equity is tied to your digital identity, one big sign of trust is sharing that identity.
I started to wonder, “Do grownups* do the same thing?” How might our digital password sharing mimic our real-world trust dependencies?
I assert that what’s important in a Web-connected conception of trust is: reliability, access and facility/ease.
Examples with three of the Web’s bigger players:
- Google – When I first set-up Google 2-step verification, I sent my backup codes to the people closest to me. Coupled with my password, these codes are necessary for every device/browser session I want to log into with my Google Account. The point is not just about trusting these friends and family member. It’s about trust but also reliability that these friends will be able to locate and communicate to me one backup code when I need it most.
- Facebook – Facebook now lets you recover a hacked account with the help of your friends. Facebook describes it as: “Giving a house key to your friends when you go on vacation.” Facebook’s implementation requires not only that your friends be true but also that they be available to access Facebook on their own to verify your identity for you.
- Twitter – There is an anecdote we take to customer meetings as a sales team at Twitter: All the celebrities who have a social media presence — YouTube Channel, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter Profile — give their credentials to YouTube or Facebook to their agent or their PR firm. But they refuse to give their Twitter handle access. (People attribute this to Twitter’s mobile emphasis and because it is easy to take Twitter with them on their phone. It’s the easiest way to post a quick picture from backstage or before the game begins, etc.).
Identity and identity-sharing or identity-trust most go hand-in-hand. If you can supply a reliable, accessible and easy way to share identities then the “trust” is no different from the way it manifests itself for objects in the physical world.
*I firmly believe you’re not an adult until you stop saying “grownup.”
Tags: access, Facebook, facility, Google, identity, trust, Twitter
New York Times’ Well blog asks:
Are young people addicted to feeling good about themselves?
What is the source of such a cynical lede/article set-up, you might ask.
University of Michigan scientists have determined that “when given the choice, young bright college students said they’d rather get a boost to their ego — like a compliment or a good grade on a paper — than eat a favorite food or engage in sex.”
I read this totally differently from the Times. Why are we being chastised for choosing something wholesome and long-lasting over something materialistic and ephemeral?
I can only imagine if the study had found students chose the food or the sex over the compliment or good grade: the headlines would scream, “College students prefer carb loading and hedonism to values and self-worth!”
The New York Times post then goes on to quote the rise of recent books such as “The Narcissism Trend,” which point to our apparently latent self-absorbsion.
As I see it, all this study does is affirm that Millennials have a different set of values from the Boomers who preceded them. We as a generation are not fixated on wealth or material status. And, if this study is to believed, not even the much-bem
oaned hook-up culture is affecting us when we are forced to decide between sex and something like a good grade or a compliment.
One day, we may look back fondly on either the high mark in school or an off-hand compliment from a friend. That shows some appreciation and perspective — a perspective which I feel like we’re constantly told we don’t have in this culture of easy connections on Facebook or Twitter. But apparently students are saying in this study that we do have that perspective.
Most surprisingly, somehow this article seems to ignore that (last I checked) it’s a good thing that students want to do well…in school. So why is it in any way negative that students chose to get a good grade in school over sex? Why is this negatively spun the way it is? Can someone help me understand, please!
Tags: boomers, ego, facaebook, food, grades, millennials, narcissism, nytimes, paper, sex, Twitter, umich, university of michigan
This entire post was written– no, spoken– on my Google Nexus One, then shortened on a custom domain URL shortener released today, bit.ly Pro, and then pushed out to the world via Twitter. And the whole thing (including modification of CNAME records, etc.) took about 10 minutes.
Technology. I love it.
Update: My custom domain URL shortener, for those of you who asked, is at cltom.com.
Update 2: I wrote this blog post on my phone using the (very slick) recently-released WordPress for Android. And I used Android’s speech-to-text. There, all clarified now.
Tags: bit.ly, Google, nexus one, Technology, Twitter
Facebook’s forthcoming status promp asks users “What’s on your mind?“
What can we expect from this?
I think we’ll see a proliferation of Twitter-like status updates, no doubt what Facebook has in mind. I think we will see more links to videos on YouTube, more stories from NYTimes. We will see a greater number of status updates which follow the form of the typical Twitter post: “I found/created this cool article/blog/link/photo. Here are my impressions. This is the shrunken link.”
- Screenshot via VentureBeat
In addition, with no apparent 140-character limit à la Twitter, people will be inclined to ditch the Links and Notes apps on Facebook. If you could tag your friends in Status Updates (simliar to an @reply in Twitter), I could see people abandoning these other forms of link/article sharing. Instead, the dialogue could take place as a part of the stream, not on some sequestered page on each person’s profile.
Currently, Facebook asks, “What are you doing right now?” As a result, two recent status updates on my NewsFeed are: “Christina cannot believe how fast time is flying!” and “Jason is YouTubing Korean Pop Dance Routines…”
Under the new configuration, when asked “What’s on your mind?” Christina might post, “wondering how fast time is flying…Stanford 10-week quarters go by so quickly! [http://tinyurl.com/c687t4].”
Jason might say, “YouTubing Korean Pop Dance Routines: this one is just crazy [http://tinyurl.com/bwm7fb]. What do you think?”
Tags: Facebook, linking, links, news feed, status, status update, Twitter, what's on your mind, YouTube