The API Evangelist Mission Continues
14 Nov 2016
I tried to get back to normal last week on API Evangelist -- I failed. The previous week was @APIStrat in Boston, which was a success. It was the Presidential election that caused me to swerve and put things into the ditch. I was devastated and saddened by the results. Not because my party lost, but because we chose someone who ran on such a racially, and religiously charged platform, that was so threatening to women.
It is easy to mistake what I do as the API Evangelist, as being a voice for the startup community -- cheerleading APIs in the service of the seemingly endless wave of tech companies coming out of Silicon Valley. While I do pay attention to the technology, and business of how these companies are using APIs, making sure the content, data, and algorithms they employ are transparent and observable by partners, 3rd party developers, end-users, and industry regulators is my primary objective.
My mission is not about open APIs because open always makes things better, or simply open for business. I believe corporate, government and institutional data, content, and algorithmic resources should be as transparent and observable as possible, by those who are impacted by their existence. Meaning if you are collecting data about me, I should know what you are collecting, and have access to it. I should be able to move it around or delete it. Trusted regulators and auditors should also be able to peek behind the curtains of the algorithms that are increasingly impacting our world, and make sure they size up with the claims being made.
I have spent six years pushing on startups and the enterprise to be more transparent and inclusive with their resources by employing APIs. During this time I did the same for the city, state, and the federal government. I've also extended this to higher educational institutions. With Donald Trump in office, this does not change, it just ups the stakes for me. In this climate, being transparent about the data we collect and share, and how the algorithms operate will only be more critical.
I am nervous about the future. Much of the existing rhetoric around algorithms and the surveillance economy has worried me, but all of this in the hands of a sexist, racist, and Islamophobically charged administration and climate scare the hell out of me. In 2017 I will continue to cover the technology and business of APIs, but as I have already been doing, I will be spending a larger portion of my time talking about the politics of APIs, including terms of service, privacy, and the observability of the systems and algorithms that are fueling our increasingly Internet-connected world. As always, I will need your support -- thank you!