Stories Are Essential To Success of Open Data in Government

When I first started API Evangelist, I quickly saw that there was more to this whole API game, beyond just the technology. Simple, logical, technological solutions like REST and JSON are essential, but there was more to the success of an API than just the tech behind.

After looking at hundreds of the most successful APIs, one pattern for success consistently emerged, storytelling. The most successful API platforms like Amazon, Twitter and Twilio all had one thing in common, stories were told about how their APIs were being used, and the value that was created.

While reading the story around the Federal Government redesign of I was happy to see a major revelation that came from requirements gathering for the next iteration called Next.Data.Gov. Where after studying usage patterns around, the redesign team found that many visitors were hungry for stories of how government data was being used, looking for clear examples of the potential of open government data. 

Storytelling is essential for any open data or API platform. Consumers need examples of how data and resources are currently being used. A process that will stimulate the imagination and increase the potential for new ideas and development.

I can't stress enough the importance of storytelling. If you do not have the resources to tell your own stories, make sure there are ways that the community can tell their own stories.

It doesn't matter how solid your technological implementation is, if there aren't stories for users to discover and learn about the potential of open data and API resources, even the best platform implementation will fail.

So go forth and tell the stories of your API, and the value it has created.