Picture by ~Jetta Girl~ (camera off to Nikon ER) at Flickr
According to the Webopedia an API is
Abbreviation of application program interface, a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. A good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the building blocks. A programmer then puts the blocks together.
Why tell you that? They seem to be all the rage at the moment. Some of the biggest names in the biz are promising ‘api’ like access to their wares: The NYTimes, The Guardian and the telegraph and Reuters(labs) to name just a few. And we shouldn’t forget the venerable Backstage effort from the BBC.
So why the excitement? Well essentially it means more mash-up stuff in the form of Apps. Little web/phone applications that use content from the publication. We love that stuff don’t we.
Dare to share
No web service is worth its salt these days without some form of api access and considering the voracious way the media fell on api’s from the likes of facebook it’s nice to see the share-alike attitude finally filtering through. Of course they will get something from this.
But something is nagging me about this.
Essentially an api provides an interface. A way for people outside the organisation to access content and data and make new and interesting stuff from it – a way to collaborate on terms that suit everyone. Right?That’s what nags me. Organizations already have that. It’s called a journalist.
So whilst you are mashing-up why not release your most powerful user-agent. Harness the the power of your most productive functions. Let your journalists interface with the public more.
So I thought about re-defining what an api is in that context. Audience pleasing interface? Audience providing interest?
No, your journalists as an API – Allow Profitable Interaction