Josh Haas's Web Log

Self-experimentation, the programming-free version

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Thinking about it, my previous entry on how I set up a self-experiment over text messages might be a little intimidating for the non-programming crowd. It assumes you know how to ssh into a web server and run terminal commands, set up cron jobs, and have some basic fluency in Python and SQL.

So I wanted to point out that you can get to an 80% solution using no coding at all, just ifttt. The goal, remember, is to get a text message throughout the day with a prompt, and then reply back to that text message and have your response saved. If you don’t care about randomizing the times of day, or auto-generating the metrics, you can do this without any technical knowledge at all.

Step 1. Set up the prompts. Create an ifttt task (see my last post for how to do this) with the “Date & Time” channel as the trigger and the SMS channel as the action. Pick the times of day you want to get emailed, and write the question you want emailed to you.

Step 2. Set up the data capture. If you don’t have an Evernote account, create one — it’s free! Create a notebook within Evernote for storing the results of your experiment. Then, create an ifttt task with the SMS channel as the trigger, and the Evernote channel “create a note” as the action. For the note text, put {{Message}}; this will copy the body of the text message you send in. For the notebook, put the name of your new experiment notebook. Now, every time you reply to a text from ifttt, the reply will be saved in your notebook.

Look ma, no code!

Written by jphaas

October 16th, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized