For users, Facebook’s takeover of Instagram just plain sucks. No longer will we be able to share photos of our dog or our breakfast (or our dog’s breakfast) without wondering whether Uncle Zuck is looking over our shoulders. But it will keep happening for as long as great businesses fail to charge money for their services.
In the meantime, we can future-proof our social interaction so that when the underlying services disappear, or get too evil for our tastes, we can raze our accounts to the ground and still keep everything we did there.
To do this, we’re going to use a combination of Tumblr and the amazing IFTTT (If This Then That). And while this example shows how to archive and display your Instagrams, you could ditch Instagram altogether and post photos from your favorite grunge-photo app.
First, go buy yourself a domain name. As long as you keep up the payments, nobody can take this away from you, and it will be your permanent home on the web. Then, head over to Tumblr, sign up and then connect your new domain to your Tumblr account. You’ll have to actually point your CNAME or A-record at Tumblr’s servers, but once that’s done, all you need to do is type your new URL into a box.
Now you have your own website, you just have to fill it up. For this you need IFTTT, a great way to automate the Internet. IFTTT takes stuff from one place and puts it in another. “Stuff” in this case is photos, bookmarks, mail and more and “places” can be Flickr, Facebook and — yes — Tumblr and Instagram.
Once you have signed in, go through the setting and connect your accounts. For this example we’ll need to validate our Tumblr and Instagram accounts. Then we create a “task.” You can browse through popular recipes, or make your own. We’ll roll our own. Click to create a new task and then click the giant word “This.”
Click the Instagram logo and follow the instructions. You can add any of your new photos, or even photos that you liked, tagged or just have a particular hashtag. Go ahead and click “Any new photo by you,” then click “Create Trigger.”
Then click on the giant “That” and follow the same procedure for Tumblr.
Now, any photo you post to Instagram will automagically be sent to Tumblr. Now, you can actually set Instagram to do this for you every time you post, but the point here was to show you the power of IFTTT. As you will have seen whilst following along, pretty much every web service ever is in there, letting you pipe it all into your own blog.
Neat, huh? And because you can also use RSS and e-mail to get things into IFTTT, even brand new services can be piped in, even before IFTTT supports them officially.
And that’s it. You now have a permanent presence on the web, and it will be automatically populated with everything you’re already doing. Just while writing this post I have set up recipes to bring in any videos I post to Vimeo or YouTube, and also added any check-ins I make on Foursquare that also contain a photo (so I don’t clog things up when I head to my local bar every day).
It’s pretty addictive, and you will start to see all kinds of other uses for it (like sending you an e-mail if it’s going to rain tomorrow). But the best part is that you can go on using your social networks of choice and never be afraid that your hard work creating content will suddenly disappear. And you never know — maybe somebody might actually start to read your blog.