It's no secret that Twitter is wildly popular these days. People all over the world are using Twitter to stay in touch with dozens/hundreds/thousands of people at a time. But the social aspect of Twitter is only one aspect of it's power. Using Twitter for automation has the potential to be just as powerful and a huge time saver.
Earlier today Mike sent me a link to an article talking about using Twitter for some really cool projects like a gadget that reminds you to water your plant or the ability to tell your house what to do via Twitter using some home automation gadgets from x10. My first thought was “hey, cool.” That was quickly followed by “Darn you, Mike!”
This evening I wanted to see if there would be a way for me to use what I had learned in the article to enhance a project that I already have up and running. The first thing that came to mind was the Photo-a-Week project I put together on Flickr. The way it works currently is, if you want to join you need to give me your email address, I add it to a database and then once a week you receive an email letting you know the topic for the upcoming week. After a little bit of research and roughly 8 lines of code, there is now an automated Twitter element that makes the entire process way easier. Here's what I did:
1. Created a new Twitter account called @PhotoAWeek
2. Updated the PHP script that sends the weekly emails to also send an update to Twitter with all the pertinent information.
OK, that's it. Simple, yes. Time saver, yes. Just the tip of the iceberg, most definitely.
This is a really basic example of a way to automate a process using Twitter. I'm really interested to see what other ways people are using Twitter to automate projects and processes. If you know of any links to articles on the topic, please leave them for me in a comment.