Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sexism in the Tech Space

I just finished reading Asher Wolf’s Dear Hacker Community – We Need To Talk. I have so many emotions bubbling up, it’s hard to know how to organize them. I envy her for being able to express them so eloquently and in detail.

First, before I cycle through some of my emotions. Please don’t leave the space Asher. Keep fighting, we need you!

Ok, now let me cycle through and process some of my own feelings on this. My first reaction is similar to when I read the comments on Audrey’s blog, when she challenges the hacker community on things--I want to feel my big black boot up against their head. I miss the days when I could deal with problems that way. I would challenge any of you piss ant commenters to come say that shit to her face.  You can't. Because your a worthless sack o shit, I wouldn't even need to kick your ass, she does just fine on her own.

Next I want to gather IP addresses, screen names, and start building a neat little black book for some hacking or ass kicking at the right moments.

After that I would love to put all you misogynistic fuckers into jail for a while, let you defend yourself. Have you been to jail? I have. I was arrested when I was 18, downtown SF.  I spent the day riding around in paddy wagon handcuffed to a guy who got arrest for jacking off downtown in park, then spend a lovely week at 850 Bryant Street.  Good times!

Then I come back to reality, where I know none these approaches will provide any positive solution for the problem. And I know a good ass kicking will do no good for the insecure boys seem to make up a large portion of the technology movement (at least vocal majority).

The only thing that will fix this, is dialogue, communication and listening.

I consider myself a very compassionate guy, very empathetic to others.  but I remember vividly a day in 2005 when I had to go heads down on a huge project and handed over communication of all my projects to my then wife and business partner. After a few days I got an email from one client, who said he needed to talk with me. I said I was busy, he needed to talk with my partner. He said, no….he wouldn't. I forget the terminology he used, but it was obviously some coded, good ol boy shit, that she was dumb and I knew my shit. I remember exactly what I said, "go fuck yourself, find a new programmer."

That moment has stuck with me. As a 6' 3" white boy, I never had seen sexism like that. It made me reassess all the conversations guys were having behind closed doors. It made me realize how many insecure, sexists pigs there were out there in the workplace and across the technology spectrum.

At first thought, it blows my mind that we have to have these conversations at the end of 2012, but regardless, we desperately need to have them, no matter how late in the game.

If you are a guy in the space and are getting your feathers ruffled at all by the conversation--then you are part of the problem. You need to shut the fuck up, go look in the mirror, do some soul searching and make sure you are the "listening" variable in these discussions that are going on.  Those emotions bubbling up, that is YOUR insecurity.  If you can't identify it, you aren't experienced enough.  Go work on it.

If you are thinking about opening up your mouth and saying any of this is hypocrisy, you are wrong. You can't balance this out without pushing things back the other direction sorry. Its just like racism. You can't erase hundreds of years of wrong doing in a couple years, and with an "I'm sorry". Your going to have to feel a little uncomfortable dude. Maybe even a lot uncomfortable.

So, let's please have lots more discussions about this, online and at events. Every event should open with a discussion about how to treat women and make things inclusive, letting us guys know where we stand--if you have a problem with it, you know where the door is. Go home and live with the fact that you are what is wrong with our world.

Don't get me wrong. I have my own mommy and ex-wife issues to contend with. I'm not perfect. But you know what? They are my problems, they aren't any of these amazing women in the tech space problems. They are mine to work through, and you should work to acknowledge yours. You have them!  If you act like there isn't any problems with sexism in the space, your in total denial.  End of story.

I hope we can spend the next decade having these conversations, repeatedly until us men have beat back our insecurities, healed whatever trauma we've experienced and realize we need women in our project groups, at our events and an EQUAL part of the tech experience that is Silicon Valley. Without it, none of this will be sustainable.

from Kin Lane

History of APIs: ProgrammableWeb

While writing about the history of APIs, it is easy to be so focused on just APIs, that you overlook the single most important player in the entire history of the web API--ProgrammableWeb.

In July 2005, John Musser started ProgrammableWeb. According to his original about page:

ProgrammableWeb is a web-as-platform reference site and blog delivering news, information and resources for developing applications using the Web 2.0 APIs.
I started this site because I couldn't find what I was looking for: a technology focused starting point for web platform development. (For a bit more see my initial post.) Although no guarantees, the last time I started a reference site it somehow became Google's highest rated link on the topic. Given that this site will be a collaborative effort with community input as well, this can be what we make it.
I hope you find the site useful.
John Musser - Seattle, August 2005

I think John’s original blog post on why he started ProgrammableWeb, says it all: Why? Because going From Web Page to Web Platform is a big deal.

Web APIs are a big deal! Whether its social networking, government, healthcare or education--having a programmable platform to make data and resources available will be a critical part of how commerce and society operates from here on forward.   

John made a early decision to showcase open and RESTful approaches to deploying APIs vs. parallel attempts of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Web Services, and focused on telling stories about open APIs--way before it was the thing to do in Silicon Valley.

When I started API Evangelist in July 2010 (5 years after PW), and started talking about the business of APIs, the technology of web APIs was already widely accepted in Silicon Valley, because of the stories John Musser and Adam Duvander have told on ProgrammableWeb.

As we close 2012, a year in which I think we can confidently say APIs are moving mainstream, and I feel we owe much of ithe success to ProgrammableWeb. The stories John, Adam and other writers have been telling on ProgrammableWeb have been crucial to quantifying and defining the API industry--allowing us all to build and iterate and move things forward. Without stories around the technical, business and politics of APIs, these virtual interfaces would not have been able to find a place in our real life worlds.

Thanks John, Adam and ProgrammableWeb, for telling the stories that got us here.

from API Evangelist

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Secret to a Successful API is Internal from #APIDays

Here is a video of one of my talks from API Days in Paris, France where I walked the internal side of APIs. This talk is derived from my post, the secret to amazons success is internal and stories I've written on Netflix's success with internal APIs.

The presentation for this talk is available in my talks section at The Secret to a Successful ApI is Internal.

You can find another video from API Days by me called Business Models For Your API as Startup from API Days, in a nearlier post.

from API Evangelist

Insights From API Pioneers: Salesforce Developer Highlights of 2012

You can learn a lot from the history of APIs, and following what the pioneers are doing.  Salesforce isn't the coolest API within the Hacker News community, but when it comes to building an API ecosystem--Salesforce knows what they are doing.

I was reading through the Salesforce top developers highlights of 2012.  Their highlights doesn't just showcase the success of the community, but what Salesforce feels is critical to keeping their ecosystem healthy. 

What I hear when I read this list is that to get to 800K developers (holy shit), you need to constantly release new technologies, product resources and content to support your platform, give your community a voice with an emphasis on showcasing the leaders--while also engaging with developers both online and offline.

Salesforce has been building their API ecosystem for 12 years!  Twice as long as Twitter.  What they highlight as part of their developer community in 2012 is something you should be doing in your own developer community.

from API Evangelist

The Places I Traveled in 2012

The end of the year is a great time for reflection. 2012 was kind of a blur, and with the amount of API Evangelism I did, I had little time to reflect on where I went and the places I enjoyed.

I wanted a quick way to create some kind of visualization, showing where i had been over the year.  Foursquare was the first placed I looked and using Singly I was quickly able to pull my year of checkins.

This is just one question I want to ask of my online digital world.  There are so many other questions I have about my personal data, and will be working to deliver answers to them when I can.  

from Kin Lane

Insights From API Pioneers: Salesforce Developer Highlights of 2012

You can learn a lot from the history of APIs, and following what the pioneers are doing.  Salesforce isn't the coolest API within the Hacker News community, but when it comes to building an API ecosystem--Salesforce knows what they are doing.

I was reading through the Salesforce top developers highlights of 2012.  Their highlights doesn't just showcase the success of the community, but what Salesforce feels is critical to keeping their ecosystem healthy. 

What I hear when I read this list is that to get to 800K developers (holy shit), you need to constantly release new technologies, product resources and content to support your platform, give your community a voice with an emphasis on showcasing the leaders--while also engaging with developers both online and offline.

Salesforce has been building their API ecosystem for 12 years!  Twice as long as Twitter.  What they highlight as part of their developer community in 2012 is something you should be doing in your own developer community.

from API Evangelist

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Five Areas of Collective Action Around Personal Data

I'm immersed in deep thought around my personal data, asking some important questions about my digital self--which includes the state of my online personal data.

After reading 14 big trends to watch in 2013, by Alex Howard (@digiphile), I got immersed in World Economic Forums Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class paper.

I'm still processing all of my thoughts around the paper, but one statement really stands out:

The issues surrounding personal data – political, technological and commercial alike – are numerous and complex. The choices stakeholders make today will influence the personal data ecosystem for years to come.

The World Economic Forum then outlines five key area that require action:

  1. Innovate around user-centricity and trust. The personal data ecosystem will be built on the trust and control individuals have in sharing their data. From a technological, policy and sociological sense all stakeholders need to embrace this construct. One particular area of focus is the continued testing and promoting of “trust frameworks” that explore innovative approaches for identity assurance at Internet scale
  2. Define global principles for using and sharing personal data. Given the lack of globally accepted policies governing the use and exchange of personal data, an international community of stakeholders should articulate and advance core principles of a user-centric personal data ecosystem. These pilots should invite real-world input from a diverse group of individuals who can not only articulate the values, needs and desires of end users, but also the complex and contextual nuances involved in revealing one’s digital identity
  3. Strengthen the dialog between regulators and the private sector. Building on a collective sense of fundamental principles for creating a balanced ecosystem, public and private stakeholders should actively collaborate as the ecosystem begins to take shape. Those responsible for building and deploying the tools (the technologists) should more closely align with those making the rules (regulators)
  4. Focus on interoperability and open standards. With the appropriate user controls and legal infrastructure in place, innovations in how personal data moves throughout the value chain will be a key driver for societal and economic value creation. Enabling a secure, trusted, reliable and open infrastructure (both legal and technical) will be vital. Participants should identify best practices and engage with standards bodies, advocacy groups, think tanks and various consortia on the user-centric approaches required to scale the value of personal data
  5. Continually share knowledge. It’s a huge challenge for entities to keep up with new research, policies and commercial developments. To stay current, stakeholders should share insights and learnings on their relevant activities, from both successes as well as failures. After all, the ecosystem’s promise is about the tremendous value created when individuals share information about who they are and what they know. Clearly, this principle should also apply to practitioners within the development community

Whether its social networks or education and healthcare, personal data will be a major driver of API adoption in 2013. Personal data is at the heart of the recent social and mobile movements, and there are very serious illnesses in how we buy and sell personal data in Silicon Valley.

I agree with Alex Howard, that personal data ownership will be big issue in 2013, and intrigued by the World Economic Forums insight on personal data, it asks a lot of great questions--questions that we need bring mainstream in 2013.

from API Evangelist

If Quora and IFTTT Had a Love Child

I'm spending a lot of time asking questions about 2012 for various year-end stories. Some questions I can just go to my database and pull numbers, others I can use various APIs to ask questions of common tools I use like Foursquare, Eventbrite, Twitter and Pinboard.

Many questions like, "How many Twitter followers did I have in June 2012", are either very complex to calculate or impossible if I didn’t gather the data at that moment. I would like to be able to ask specific questions, discover the services that can answer and setup some sort of automation to make sure the question gets asked on a regular basis.

Imagine if Quora and IFTTT had a love child. A sort of API QA Automation platform. But it wouldn’t be just dependent on APIs, it could run like ScraperWiki and just “borrow” what it needs to answer questions.

Just a thought. If someone has the spare time to build something like this, it would sweet! :)

P.S. I love reaching the age where I don’t feel compelled to build every idea I have as a startup. Just put them out there and let others take advantage of, and everyone will benefit.

from Kin Lane

New API Stories in 2013

Storytelling in the API industry is critical to the healthy growth of the space. John Musser and ProgrammableWeb have been telling great stories in the tech industry, since way before APIs were all lthe rage they are now.

While I was at API Days this year, I was speaking with Mike Amundsen (@mamund) of Layer7, and we started talking about how Amazon, Netflix (and I’d add Twilio) tend to dominate the API discussion. I considered my talks from API Days, and sure enough--Netflix and Amazon were in there multiple times!

There are other stories we tell around Twitter, Facebook Google and other smaller APIs, but Amazon, Netflix and Twilio were cornerstones of API folklore in 2012. While I will keep telling these pillar stories (because they matter), as well as evolving other pioneers from my history of APIs section, I want to develop a fresh lineup of amazing API stories for 2013.

Stories like Johnson Control's, Panoptix API, and how a 125 year old company can change their culture and embrace a new way of doing business via APIs.

I will make sure there is easy access to the classic Amazon, Netflix and Twilio API stories. I will also be adding new versions of some other classic stories from Salesforce, eBay, Flickr and other API pioneers. But in 2013 I will be working to find a new set of API stories from brands and companies we know.

If you have an API success story you’d like to share, please let me know.

from API Evangelist

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Time to Reflect and Ask Questions of 2012

The end of the year is a great time to reflect--looking back at the year with a desire to quantify and understand ourselves.

With our increasingly digital (social, cloud, mobile, APIs) lives, there are more opportunities than ever to ask our digital self very specific questions, and with the power the API get an answer back.

Over the holidayz, I spent some time asking some questions I wanted to know about my world in 2012--things that were important to me, and help me feel healthy, happy, accomplished and ultimately successful. (aka. Optimize for Happiness)

I broke these questions up into interest areas, then using APIs set out to find the services I use, or could use, that would help me answer these questions.

Family / Friends

  • How much time did I spent with my GF?
  • How much time did I spend with my daughter?
  • How much time did I spend with family?
  • How much time did I spend with friends?
  • How many friends do I have on social networks?


  • How many blog posts did I write?
  • How many long form stories did I write? 
  • How many books did I write?
  • How much public speaking did I do?
  • How many page views did I get on blog(s)?
  • How many unique visitors did I get on blog(s)?
  • How many blog posts did I read?
  • How many blog posts did I curate?

Travel / Adventures

  • How many cities did I visit?
  • How many countries did I visit?
  • How many check-ins did I make?
  • What places were my top check-ins?
  • What public transit did I use?
  • How many miles did I travel?


  • Do I feel healthy?
  • How many steps did I take?
  • What health milestones occured?


  • How many games did I watch on TV?
  • How many games did I see in person?
  • What were the big games?


  • How many conferences did I attend?
  • How many hackathons did I attend?
  • How many virtual webinars / hangouts did I participate in?

Programming / Code

  • How many github repositories did I create?
  • How many github commits did I make?


  • How many tweets did I send?
  • How many followers did I get?
  • How many people did i followers?
  • How many retweets did I get?


  • How many podcasts did I create?
  • How many podcasts did I collaborate on?


  • How much money did I make?
  • How much interest did I pay?
  • How much money did I spend?
  • Which stocks did I trade?
  • Which stocks did I wish I trade?
  • How much money invested in stock?


  • How many emails did I send?
  • Who did I email the most?


  • How many phone calls did I make?
  • How many SMS did I send?
  • How much did I spend on my phone?

Photography / Images

  • How many photos did I take?
  • Which photos were my best from the year?

Movies / Television

  • How many movies did I watch?
  • How many movies in a theatre?
  • Which were my top movies?
  • How many television shows did I watch?
  • Which television shows were the top ones?


  • How blog posts did I comment on?
  • How many forums did post on?
  • How many questions did I answer on QA sites?


  • What games did I play?
  • What games are my favorite?


  • What type of food did I eat?
  • What is my favorite food?


  • How much beer did I drink?
  • What is my favorite beer?
  • Where is my favorite place to drink beer?


  • How much wine did I drink?
  • What is my favorite wine?
  • Where is my favorite place to drink wine?


  • How many works of art did I create?
  • How many art galleries did I go to?
  • How many images did I share?

First Time

  • What brand new places did I go to?
  • What other first time things did I do?

What I Didn't Do!

  • What didn't I do that I want to?
  • What didn't I do that was for the better?

This is all a work in progress.  I wanted a list that could evolve, but I could use as a framework for actually answering some of these questions--either annually or real-time if possible, using APIs.

To facilitate this process, I've published as project on Github.  I will be publishing all the questions I ask, and their solutions.  

So far, I've been able to use Singly and answer a number of critical questions about 2012 using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google--via the Singly API.

If you have questions you'd like asked, you can visit my personal data questions project and comment via Disqus or if you want, you can fork and contribute your own questions and API driven solutions.

from API Evangelist

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Amazing Visuals, But Lack of API Imagination

I was scrolling through my feeds today and I came across, "Earth As Art" from NASA. I clicked on the homepage and didn’t think much, and moved on. Then I came across Earth as Art book from NASA on Flowing Data, where they showed an actual image from the “Earth As Art” collection.

Sure, I suffer from ADD. But so does much of the world. I work through huge amounts of data on a daily basis, looking for gems. Sometimes I can find them myself, and sometimes I need help.

The “Earth as Art” is an amazing collection of satellite photos from NASA. I feel the entire collection could be made into an exhibit, allowing us to experience, take in and discuss the meaning of art, created from space of the planet we live on.

I also feel NASA’s Earth as Art I think is a poster boy example of how APIs can open up and provide access to content, but also work as conduit for syndication, sharing, remixing and expression around content the owner may not have been able to see.

The deployment of the Earth as Art collection at NASA has a title, description and meaningless photo thumbnail--accompanied by a PDF and iPad app. Obviously NASA saw the value in delivering an iPad app, and making the content accessible to the masses via a PDF.

As soon as I saw the images I want to create something that would share, syndicate and bring awareness to their beauty. My hands are immediately tied, with only a PDF and iPad app--I am not equipped with the tools of a developer.

If there were simply a JSON file of all images, titles, locations and details. Before I got to work, I looked around, but couldn’t find any raw data for the project. So I created my own JSON representation of the Earth as Art PDF.

JSON output is so much more valuable than PDF output. It took me about 2 hours to reverse engineer the Earth as Art PDF and render as images and text. Now, equipped with the parts and pieces of the Earth as Art content, with JSON file as a framework--I can get to work creating several, more interactive representations of the satellite imagery.

Before I create any visualizations, I need a place to put my project. No better place than Github. I can use Github Pages to host my project and with a JSON file as my data source, I can easily use Mustache Templates to display the images and allow for basic browsing.

Instead of a single, static PDF--I now have all my images and the title, details, location and paths in a JSON file I can render the content in any way I want:

  • HTML Templates - Using JSON + Mustache I can view images on a listing with detail pages
  • Deck.js Presentation - Create a presentation in markdown using the satellite imagery and content, laid out using the deck.js framework
  • Widgets - Develop several, embeddable, syndicatable JavaScript widgets that are driven from the JSON file

Having the Earth as a Art assets stored as individual images with name, details, location and image paths as JSON allows me build my own HTML display, presentations and widgets around the content.

Hosting the Earth as Art project at Github allows me to provide simple, inexpensive, open hosting for the data, content and display elements--allowing anyone to fork, download and remix and even choose to contribute back.

As another project, I can explore the licensing, branding and other aspects that will ensure the creators of the content (NASA), get the attribution they deserve for creating such amazing content.

When I first saw the Earth as Art pictures this morning, I couldn’t get over the fact that they weren’t in a format that allowed for remix, sharing and syndication. The images are amazing and really lend themselves for infinite presentations and interpretations.

Hopefully the project will only grow from here.

from API Evangelist

Friday, December 21, 2012

Top 10 Posts on API Evangelist in 2012

2012 has been a great year to be in the API space. We saw some pretty amazing growth, and everyone is talking APIs going into 2013.

I wrote 243 blog posts on API Evangelist in 2012. The top 10 posts for 2012 were:

  1. Barack Obama Directs All Federal Agencies to Have an API
  2. Twitter Rolls Back to a Server-Side Architecture
  3. The Secret to Amazons Success Internal APIs
  4. APIs Are Forever, Wait No...They Can Go Away at Any Time!!!
  5. 30 APIs To Look At When Planning Your API
  6. Let Developers Register for Your API with Their Github Profile
  7. Mobile Backend as a Service Roundup and the Future of Web APIs
  8. Github is the Social Network of the Future
  9. The Building Blocks of a Successful API
  10. Open Building Blocks for an API

I'm pretty proud of these posts. I think they represent the tone I'm trying to set with API Evangelist, and I'm stoked that people actually read them.  I'm looking forward to 2013!

from API Evangelist

Top 10 API Evangelists Posts of 2012

2012 has been a great year to be in the API space. We saw some pretty amazing growth in the space, and everyone is talking APIs.

I wrote 243 blog posts on API Evangelist in 2012. The top 10 posts for 2012 were:

  1. Barack Obama Directs All Federal Agencies to Have an API
  2. Twitter Rolls Back to a Server-Side Architecture
  3. The Secret to Amazons Success Internal APIs
  4. APIs Are Forever, Wait No...They Can Go Away at Any Time!!!
  5. 30 APIs To Look At When Planning Your API
  6. Let Developers Register for Your API with Their Github Profile
  7. Mobile Backend as a Service Roundup and the Future of Web APIs
  8. Github is the Social Network of the Future
  9. The Building Blocks of a Successful API
  10. Open Building Blocks for an API

I'm pretty proud of these posts. I think they represent the tone I'm trying to set with API Evangelist, and I'm stoked that people actually read them.  I'm looking forward to 2013!

from API Evangelist

API Trends

In addition to helping people understand the history of APIs, I'm looking to help people grasp what the future holds, when it comes to APIs. So, while tracking on the API industry, I'm always on the lookout for patterns of API usage that can help me understand what might be next for the web API movement. 

Based upon what I'm seeing across the space I launched a new trends section to API Evangelist, where I'm gathering news, analysis and company data in seven separate areas:



Backend as a Service (BaaS)



Scripting Platforms



These areas reflect the patterns I'm seeing, and while some API owners or API service providers may fall into one or many of these areas, I've broken them down into, what I feel are meaningful groups that will help me explain the future of APIs to the masses.  With a goal of demonstrating the value, power and importance of APIs.

If you feel there are other trends I'm missing, patterns I'm not seeing or companies that are doing cool stuff in these areas, please let me know.  As with all of API Evangelist, these new sections are a work in progress--help it grow.

from API Evangelist

You Can't Spell Capitalism Without API

I like a good API shirt.  If you've ever seen me in person you've seen my API Evangelist shirt(s).  At least you guys hope its multiple shirts, otherwise...ewwwee!

I recently started a new design - my Che P.I. t-shirt.  

There is an OG API t-shirt that recirculated this week for me--the You Can't Spell Capitalism Without API.  This is an awesome shirt from the social advertising platform, 140 Proof.  

140 Proof launched the shirt at the Twitter Chirp Conference, and I think it is a classic, that should never go away.

I'm ordering one for christmas!

from API Evangelist

Moving From Instagram to Flickr

I stopped using my Instagram account this week. I migrated all of my photos to Flickr, and removed Instagram from my iPhone.

I’m doing this in protest of the recent Instagram terms of service change. At this point, no matter what position they take, it shows they stopped giving a shit about solving problems for Instagram users, and are more focused on revenue.

But the move to Flickr wasn’t that big of a switch. I only started using Instagram 2 years ago, where I’ve been using Flickr since January of 2007. I’ve also paid for Flickr Pro since 2008.

So while I used Instagram, because they made photo taking on my iPhone interesting, and allowed me to easily share my photos--it didn’t take much to migrate back to Flickr.

Flickr had just come out with a new iPhone application that did everything Instagram did for me, and since I never really got plugged into the whole Instagram social network--abandoning the platform didn't take much thought.

I’ll leave my Instagram account up, so I can test on the API and play with the platform in the future. But all of my photos will be published using Flickr from now on.

There are several key elements that went into action in my decision:

  • Technology - Flickr launched a superior technology that negated Instagrams technology value in my life
  • Money - I was already paying Flickr for premium services. Which translated into greater allegiance to Flickr
  • Social - Since I haven’t invested in social networks at either Instagram or Flickr it makes the migration easier. This is why I’m still at Twitter and Facebook, is I have invested in networks
  • Licensing - I am in control of my licensing at Flickr!

The migration was a no brainer, because I had invested in Flickr already. They had invested in me with premium services and mediocre technology, but when Flickr upgraded and surpassed Instagram--it made Instagram relevant.  But the licensing stance of Flickr seals the deal.  I'm in control over the licensing definition.  End of story.  

Instagram has stopped caring about its users and is caring more about monetizing the platform. Instagram could monetize while still caring for their users--it would just take a little imagination

No matter what dance Instagram does now, the damage is already done. Tech companies need to realize that the sands can shift at digital speeds now. Companies need to be as thoughtful and imaginative as possible when planning their roadmaps and communication with the public.

It is a much different landscape in the clouds.

from Kin Lane

Instagram Terms of Use Change Represents a Lack of Imagination

As a startup, you are bound to reach a point in your evolution where money will blind you, whether its during roadmap planning or communicating with your customers--eventually you will be blinded by your investors.

Once you’ve taken on enough investment, or the load of the parent company who acquired, you will start seeing things differently. You won’t see your users the same way anymore, this will be reflected in how you deliver features, or structure your roadmap--it isn’t about users anymore, it is about profit.

Once you enter this phase your imagination goes away, and you work to speak in terms that your investors understand. This is where I feel Instagram is at.

Instagram found success by solving a pain point for users. Making taking, applying filters and sharing photos dead simple for end-users. Instagram founders had identified a problem and used their imagination to find a solution.

But when working to find solutions to problems their investors are having, unfortunately Instagram is experiencing a lack of imagination.

Could you imagine if Instagram had gotten creative with its advertising platform? If they had included it’s passionate users in the planning and platform, allowing advertisers to submit campaign ideas to users, and allow for users to submit photos that best represented the ad campaign, vote and generate buzz, even before the campaign is fully formed. Users would line up to give away licensing of their photos. It could be Instagram American Idol for advertising campaigns.

An Instagram advertising platform could run similar to the weekend #hashtag program that Instagram runs currently, but allow for campaigns to be submitted by advertisers. Generating passionate users, unique content and the buzz around what the community feels are the best advertising campaigns, and photos for these campaigns.

Instagram’s approach to taking control over it’s users content and serve advertisers and investors lacks imagination. Much like Twitter’s perspective, Instagram is focused on revenue and completely forgetting to include their users in their roadmap planning, and traded in their imagination for Facebook shares.

from Kin Lane

Thursday, December 20, 2012

History of APIs

The history of APIs is something I discuss a lot.  The history of modern web APIs is something I include in all my talks, and I'm always surprised by how little people understand some of the more popular APIs that got us to where we are at.

To further support this area, I've launched a History of APIs section where I've hung the stories I've already done in this area, and will be looking to dig up the history on other APIs that are shaking things up.

When I'm talking to people about APIs, the term APIs can mean many different things. Sometimes it means hardware APIs, or the Java API or various other technical incarnations. Right now when you hear the term API, it probably means web API or an API built using REST, running on the same infrastructure the World Wide Web runs on.

When it comes to APIs, I strongly feel that to understand where we are, we need to understand the short, modern history of the web APIs. There are several patterns to why the modern web API movement has worked, that I think you can take home and use in your own API strategy.


While modern web APIs were officially born with Roy Fieldings dissertation Architectural Styles and the Design of Network-based Software Architectures in 2000--Web APIs first appeared in the wild with the introduction of Salesforce on February 7th, when the company officially launched its API at the IDG Demo 2000 conference. Salesforce was an enterprise-class, web-based, sales force automation as a "Internet as a service", with XML APIs were part of from day one.


Later in the year, on November 20, 2000, eBay launched the eBay Application Program Interface (API), along with the eBay Developers Program--which was originally rolled out to only a select number of licensed eBay partners and developers.


Then on July 16, 2002, Amazon launched Web Services allowing developers to incorporate content and features into their own web sites. Web Services (AWS) allowed third party sites to search and display products from in an XML format.

Amazon E-Commerce

The modern Web API movement was kicked off. But for some reason it didn't gain the momentum we see today, whether it was due to the "dotcom" bubble bursting or other things werent quite ready--web APIs wouldn't get traction until things got social.


In February 2004 the popular photo sharing site Flickr launched. Six months later they launched their now infamous API, and six months after that, they were acquired by Yahoo. The launch of the RESTful API helped Flickr quickly become the image platform of choice for the early blogging and social media movement by allowing users to easily embed their Flickr photos into their blogs and social network streams. While allowing Flickr to focus on a new approach to business development using web APIs.


Then on August 15th 2006, Facebook launched its long-awaited development platform and API. Version 1.0 of the Facebook Development Platform allowed developers access to Facebook friends, photos, events, and profile information for Facebook.


One month later on September 20, 2006 Twitter introduced the Twitter API to the world. Much like the release of the eBay API, Twitter's API release was in response to the growing usage of Twitter by those scraping the site or creating rogue APIs.


At the same time Facebook and Twitter were playing with the social powers of web APIs, Google was exploring the power of web APIs supporting embeddable tools and apps. The Google Maps API launched was just shy of 6 months after the release of Google Maps as an application, and was in direct response to the number of rogue applications developed that were hacking the application. Google Maps was immediately so popular that developers hacked the JavaScript interface and developed application such as and

Google Maps

At this point web APIs were showing the power of the Internet when it came to sharing, making things embeddable and social. Web APIs still were perceived as "hobby" by mainstream business. You couldn't take care of business...yet.

Cloud Computing

As APIs were generating social buzz across the Internet, Amazon saw the potential of an RESTful approach to businessinternalized and saw APIs in a way that nobody had seen them before--giving re-birth to an Amazon Web Services that was much, much more than just e-commerce.

In March, 2006 Amazon launched a new web service, something completely different from the Amazon bookseller and e-commerce site we've come to know. This was a new endeavor for Amazon: a storage web service called Amazon S3. Amazon S3 which provided a simple interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives developers access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of websites.

Six month later, shortly after launching Amazon S3, Amazon followed with a new cloud computing service dubbed Amazon EC2 or Elastic Compute Cloud. Amazon EC2 provided resizable compute capacity in the cloud, allowing developers to launch different sizes of virtual servers within Amazon data centers. Just like its predecessor Amazon S3, Amazon EC2 was just a RESTful API. Amazon wouldn't launch a web interface for another three years.

With cloud computing, web APIs got real. You could now deploy global infrastructure using APIs. It wasn't just about social fun anymore, you could actually run your business using APIs.

Even with this new found power of API driven cloud computing, it would take one more essential ingredient before web APIs were ready for the prime time.


With everyone focused on social and the cloud, a new device emerged, and much like social and cloud, would prove to be a game changer. In June of 2009 Apple launched the iPhone 3G, the App Store began allowing iPod Touch and iPhone owners to download applications through the iTunes desktop software or the App Store on their iPhones--opening up entirely new world of mobile applications, one that APIs would be the driving force.

Soon after the launch of the iPhone, in March 2009 Foursquare launched at the SXSW interactive festival in Austin, TX. Foursquare was a location-based mobile platform that makes cities more interesting to explore, by checking in via a smartphone app or SMS, users share their location with friends while collecting points and virtual badges. This new type of mobile app, utilized APIs to allow developers to deliver a new generation of location aware, API driven applications, feeding the growing app economy.


The mobile evolution of the Internet was under way, and the following year on October 6, 2010,Instagram launched its photo-sharing iPhone application. Less than three months later, it had one million users. Kevin Systrom the founder of Instagram focused on delivering a powerful, but simple iPhone app that solved common problems with the quality of mobile photos and users' frustrations with sharing.


Immediately many users complained about the lack of central Instagram web site or an API, with Instragram remaining firm on focusing its energy on the core iPhone application. In December a developer name Mislav Marohni? took it upon himself to reverse engineer how the iPhone app worked, and built his own unofficial Instagram API on top of private Instagram APIs. By January Instagram shut down the rogue API, announcing that it was building one of its own.

The appetite for API resources to drive mobile has only grown with the introduction of the iPad tablet and the growth of the Android and Windows mobile platforms.

Mobile was the finalize piece of the digital strategy puzzle, which included commerce, social and cloud--all required before the original vision of web APIs could be realized.


Web APIs got their start in early e-commerce on the Internet, but without social, a scalable cloud backend and a ubiquitous mobile devices--APIs weren't ready for prime time. In 2012, we reached that point.

Every company needs a healthy digital strategy for success in 2013, which includes sensible uses of social, cloud, mobile--all depending upon APIs. While there are plenty of other APIs to learn from, we can learn a lot from the history of modern web APIs, and these early web API pioneers.

from API Evangelist