These are the news items I've curated in my monitoring of the API space that have some relevance to the API showcase conversation and I wanted to include in my research. I'm using all of these links to better understand how the space is testing their APIs, going beyond just monitoring and understand the details of each request and response.14 Feb 2018
I have been evangelizing my skepticism around the promise of any 3rd party social media or content platforms for years. I’ve been at this game long enough that I’ve seen may platforms come and go, and I just don’t trust any of them anymore. I just finished reading a couple stories about Facebook telling publishers tough shit, when it comes to the promises they made to them about the Facebook network effect. I was also just looking for one of my more long form posts to syndicate to Medium, where I cautiously repost relevant stories there to reach a wider audience. Making it a great time to talk about how we should all be investing in our own domains, while also sensibly taking advantage of the network effects that other 3rd party platforms bring to the table.
Facebook has never really been a big traffic driver for me, so I never really drank their publisher kool-aid. However, I have had regular waves of folks telling me how bad my website looked, and that they’d read it more if I only published to Medium. There were probably 2-3 of these zombies a month back in the early days of Medium, but is something that has all but disappeared now the promise of the platform has faded. The majority of my traffic comes from Google, after that it is Twitter, and LinkedIn. Paying attention to the value of 3rd party channels when it comes to distribution of my work is important, but it always plays second fiddle to making sure my work gets done, and published within my own domain. ALWAYS!
We all want more traffic, readers, and hopefully revenue around our work. It is always tempting to think the grass is greener on another platform. However, we should never lose sight of the importance of owning, operating, and cultivating our own domain. There will always be new platforms who come along and prey upon our desire for more traffic, and the magical network effects they will bring, but it will NEVER be worth abandoning our own domain. Platforms come and go, pivot, shift courses, and rarely will think of you as more than just a data point. Nobody will ever care as much about your content, data, and audience as you do, and I’m hoping folks are starting to learn their lesson after the whole Facebook bullshit.
We should always play with new platforms. However, we should never adopt one that doesn’t have an API, allowing us to syndicate there, and remove our data when we see fit. You should also avoid using platforms that don’t let you setup a subdomain, keeping your presence there within your domain, maintaining the lion share of the value for yourself. Otherwise you are just working on someone else’s farm for free, and as a small business, we can’t allow this to happen–no matter what the promises are. As the nature of work changes in this digital world we’ve created for ourselves, possessing and maintaining control over your domain will continue to play a significant role in whether we are doing well, or are just sharecropping on someone else’s platform. We won’t ever be able to maintain 100% control over all of our data and content, or always reach the exposure levels we always will desire, but staying the course within our own domain, will ensure we can stay ahead of the game, and hopefully stay afloat.
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I flushed the the last 9 years of my Facebook profile over the last couple of days. Instead of deleting my account, I just cleaned up everything except what I have posted in 2017. In the future I will make it a yearly ritual to flush the previous year of my Facebook profile–something including an altar, candles, and Mark Zuckerberg picture. After watching the last nine years flash by before my eyes, slowly over the last 4 days–I feel confident that I’m not going to need ANY of this social media diarrhea.
This work is part of a larger effort to go through all layers of my digital self and clean house. I recently delete all but the last year of my Gmail, and deleted my central MySQL database, which has been up for the last decade in some instance. Of course, I have downloaded my Facebook archive, and created backups of my Gmail and MySQL databases–which I zip up and store locally on SD cards. Along the way I managed to also cleaned up my Amazon S3 storage which has been up since 2006, and stored what I wanted to keep from their on the same SD cards.
Why am I doing this? I am just just asserting control over my digital self. Gmail and Facebook provide an unprecedented look into our lives–my life. I’m thankful (sometimes) for the tools they provide, but I’m not convinced that they need to possess this intimiate look into my life for an entire decade. I’m not naive enough to think they don’t have some sort of backup, cache, or at least some sort of algorithm trained on my data. But asserting control, and cleaning it up makes me feel like I am a little more in control of my digital self in a time where I feel like I’m increasingly losing control of who I am it this surveillance economy.
I did not manually clean up my Facebook profile manually. I could have automated it using the Facebook API, but I wanted to use a tool that would be available for my readers to use. I’m following the lead of my partner in crime Audrey Watters, who is using F___book Post Manager to delete her network. I took many hours to delete some years, but I just tackled it year by year going back from 2016 until 2007, until it had done its job. I had to rerun it couple times to get some more stragglers, and there are still a handful of things that won’t go away no matter what–not sure what is going on here. However, the majority of my Facebook profile has now been removed, except for anything in 2017.
When you clean up your digital profile this scale, you always think twice about it–what if I need something in here at some point? However, once you are done, this feeling fades away, and you realize you will almost never need any of it, and the one or two items you do, will end up being just fine. Somewhere along the way we were convinced that all of this matters. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter at all, it just doesn’t matter as much as we’ve convinced ourselves that it does, and we do not need a record of everything that has gone on in the past at this scale. We don’t.
Having the last decade of my Facebook doesn’t benefit me. It benefits Facebook. It benefits Facebook partners and advertisers. They want us to think it benefits us, but rarely will it actually serve us better ads, or surface that amazing news article or video. However, the chances that someone will be targeting you, surveilling you, or use a piece of your Facebook out of context to negatively impact your life is pretty great. In this modern digital world we’ve created for ourselves, the more companies and governments have on our behavior, the bigger target we will become–for advertising, surveilling, and p0wning.
I didn’t want to delete my Facebook profile. I like keeping my network, because I enjoy sharing news I curate, and publishing the stories I write here. I also like staying in tune with my friends or families lives on Facebook. However, all of this has an expiration date, which I’ve identified as 1 year. The last year of my life is all I need on there. Once it rolls over a year, I archive it, and move on. Facebook has already aggregated the data, and trained their ML models. Keeping all this data does me no good, and just allows application integrations, advertisers, and other digital actors to look into my life, as well as my past. MY past.
I’m going to move on to Twitter next, cleaning it up just like I have done with my Facebook. I’ll continue to work through all of my personal accounts in this way. I won’t be doing this to any of my business accounts, or my personal blogs, because I see more value in keeping a history of my business activity out there, and happy to maintain a more personal view of my world that gets published within my own domain. As I learn more about my digital self, and develop a deeper awareness of the digital bits of mine that are floating around out there–the more I want to take control, curate, clean, and assert control over these bits. They are mine. It is me.
I continuing my effort to take control over my data, and digital presence and the next target on my list is Gmail. I have been using Gmail heavily since early 2007, and the application contained a significant amount of my data in its archives. I didn't need any tools to delete my email, as Gmail provides some easy "select all" options for folders, which easily allows me to delete from inbox, archives, and anywhere else. I'm not fooling myself to think that Google has some index of my history, or that they've already enriched their machine learning models using my data, but cleaning up my past feels good, and is something I will be repeating every six months. Before I got started, I downloaded my archive using [Google Takeout](https://takeout.google.com/settings/takeout), which I've put in a backup location for possible future reference. What was difficult for me is getting over the notion that somehow I needed access to my Gmail history. I can count on both hands the number of times I've had to search the archives for anything historically important, and in all of the situations I would have been fine if I did not find what I was looking for. The stories we've told ourselves about needing this history is powerful, and something that is very difficult to overcome--I do not know where this has originated, but is something I'll explore further in future stories. When I copied the downloaded Gmail archive to my backup location I saw the Outlook .pst files for 2000 through 2006, before I switched to Google--something I have never cracked open. I question the need to even keep these archives--what the hell am I going to do with them? I'm going through each of the other digital services that I use and will be setting up a similar strategy for cleaning up my history and archives on each platform. As I do this work I keep having concerns about the algorithms not treating me the same, my ranking and scoring taking a dive, and other worries. These are all concerns that are made up, and are in place to protect platforms interests, and really have nothing to do with me, except to ensure that I keep giving away my data, and the digital exhaust from my daily work.
The way we view personal data in this early Internet age will continue to change and evolve, until one day we are looking back at this period and find we are shocked regarding how we didn’t see people’s digital bits as their own, and something we should respect and protect the privacy and security of.
Right now my private, network shared, or even public posts are widely viewed as a commodity, something the platform operator, and other companies have every right to buy, sell, mine, extract, and generally do as they wish. Very few startups see these posts as my personal thoughts, they simply see the opportunity for generating value and revenue as part of their interests. Sure, there are exceptions, but this is the general view of personal data in this Internet age.
We are barely 20 years into the web being mainstream, and barely over five years into mobile phones being mainstream. We are only beginning to enter even more immersions of Internet in our lives via our cars, televisions, appliances, and much more. We are only getting going when it comes to generating and understanding personal data, and the impacts of technology on our privacy, security, and overall human well-being. What is going on right now will not stay the norm, and we are already seeing signs of pushback from humans regarding ownership of their data, as well as our privacy and security.
While technology companies and their investors seem all powerful right now, and many humans seem oblivious to what is going, the landscape is shifting, and I’m confident that humans will prevail, and there will be pushback that begins helping us all define our digital self, and reclaiming the privacy and security we are entitled to. When we look back on this period in 50 years we will not look favorably on companies and government agencies who exploited human’s personal data. We will see the frenzy over big data generation, accumulation, and treating it like a commodity, over something that belongs to a human as deeply troubling.
Which side of history are you going to be on?
I am coming across more API providers who have carved off specific "skills" derived from their API, and offering up as part of the latest push to acquire new users on Slack or Facebook. Services like Github, Heroku, and Runscope that API providers and developers are putting to work increasingly have bots they employ, extending their API driven solutions to Slack and Facebook.
Alongside having an application gallery, and having an iPaaS solution showcase, maybe it's time to start having a dedicated page to showcase the bot solutions that are built on your API. Of course, these would start with your own bot solutions, but like application galleries, you could have bots that were built within your community as well.
I'm not going to add a dedicated bot showcase page until I've seen at least a handful in the wild, but I like documenting these things as I think of them. It gives me some dates to better understand at which point did certain things in the API universe begin expanding (or not). Also if you are doing a lot of bot development around your API, or maybe your community is, it might be the little nudge you need to be one of the first APIs out there with a dedicated bot showcase page.
I'm going to keep beating the patent API drumbeat, until I bring more awareness to the topic, and shine a light on what is going on. While I will still be my usual self and call out the worst behavior in the space, I am also going to try and be a little more friendlier around my views, and try and help bring more options to the table. This is a serious problem, nobody is talking about, and one that has many dimensions and nuances--if you want my raw stance on API patents, you can read it here.
One area I wanted to try and cover, in response to my friends trying to convince me their aren't bad people, in having patents. I know you aren't, and it isn't my goal to make you look bad in this, it is only to shine light on the entire process, how broken it is, and call out the worst offenders. If you truly believe in patents, protecting the work you've done, and that your intentions are good, share your patent portfolio with the world, and showcase it like you do the other aspects of the work you do. You will craft a press release about everything else you do, do the same for your patents.
I do not think patents are bad. I think ill-conceived patent ideas, that haven't been properly vetted by the under resourced USPTO, that are used in back door dealings as leverage, and litigated in a court of law are bad. I'll take your word that your patents are good, and you aren't operating in any of these areas, if you are public, transparent, and openly proud of them, as you state in private conversations.
Part of the purpose of my research is to encourage good behavior in the sector, by highlight the common building blocks of the space. I think I will add a patent portfolio building to my research. While I have ZERO examples to highlight, I encourage API companies to do this, and would love to highlight in a positive way, any company that is straight up enough to showcase their patents. If you are proud of your API patents, and do not have bad intentions in having them, please publish your portfolio, show case them as you would anything else you are doing--help bring API patents out of the shadows.
Time Tracking API platform Harvest has embraced Github as part of their API ecosystem. I'm always on the hunt for examples of API providers using Github, so I figured I'd showcase Harvest's creative use of the social coding platform.
Starting with their documentation, the Harvest team has moved the API documentation to a Github repository, allowing developers to "watch" the API, get updates when changes are made, asks questions or even contribute to the API docs by submitting a pull request.
Harvest is also using the wiki portion of their Github repo for a developer application gallery they are calling Community Creations and Hacks, where they showcase innovative uses of the Harvest API--currently displaying 20 integrations by Harvest users.
I'm currently tracking on 11 separate uses of Github for API management, and always on the hunt for new ways to use Github to support API ecosystems. Nice move Harvest!
I stumbled across the Twitter Counter API in my monitoring for the API Stack this morning. The Twitter Counter API allows you to retrieve key metrics on any Twitter account like username, url and avatar. All data you can get via the Twitter API, but with Twitter Counter API you get additional information like account growth statistics and ranking, that Twitter doesn't provide at all.
I find it fascinating that someone can build an API to augment an existing API, which is why I keep talking about it, I guess :) We are seeing a more standardized version of this with API aggregation providers like Singly and Adigami, where they not only aggregate APIs from a variety of sources, they also build entirely new APIs based the added value that is created after they are brought together.
Thinking about if further, it would be cool if you could submit your API to be listed in your parent API providers API area. Think of APIhub and Mashape, but every API area would have its own 3rd API marketplace. API providers often allow 3rd party developers to submit code libraries and samples to be listed as resources, as well as applications for listing in an application showcase. So it makes sense to potetially allow for your developers to submit APIs for validation and publishing into a designated area.
Poster boy for how to properly run your API ecosystem properly, Twilio, recently updated their DOer Gallery to highlight developers in the Twilio ecosystem that build cool stuff on the popular voice and SMS API.
Twilio has the best record I’ve seen of any API, when it comes to showcasing and being loved by their developer community, and I'm sure the DOer Gallery plays an important role in that.
The Twilio DOer Gallery has the following features:
- Personal Details
- Short Bio
- Other Profiles
Devloper Galleries like Twilios might not be for every API platform. But if you have a passionate base of developers you might want to consider giving them their own profile and a gallery where they can not just discover and interact with each other, it can let other companies find potential developers to execute projects via your API.
A Developer Gallery can be a great way to give your API developers some love and attention. Twilio even features developers from their DOer Gallery on their blog in a "DOer of the Month".
Would showcasing your “API DOers” benefit your API community?
Factual has launch a new application gallery to showcase the diverse number of applications built using data provided by Factual.
You can search for apps, browse by category, and filter by open source, paid or free apps. Looks like there are about 18 apps in the directory currently ranging from augmented reality to daily deals.
The Factual App Gallery isn’t a particularly unique launch, we are seeing app showcases popup within many APIs, but it shows that Factual is gaining steam, and I think it shows the appetite for building apps around datasets is growing.
- 1st prize - Makerbot Thing-O-Matic 3D Printer
- 2nd prize - 1TB USB hard drive enclosed in a vintage nintendo game (Zelda, Metroid, etc)
- 3rd prize - Set of BuckyBalls magnetic building spheres
- NewIn - This application shows new members joining LinkedIn from around the world.
- ChromeIn - Integrate LinkedIn directly into Google Chrome. Easy access to your LinkedIn updates, anytime.
- Signal - Signal is aimed at making it easy for all professionals to glean the most relevant insights from the never-ending stream of status updates and news. An API Labs is a great way to showcase experimental and innovative projects that utilize your API.
If you think there is a link I should have listed here feel free to tweet it at me, or submit as a Github issue. Even though I do this full time, I'm still a one person show, and I miss quite a bit, and depend on my network to help me know what is going on.