APIs Give You The Ability To Define And Execute On The Actions That Are Most Important To You
I am a programmer with a full understanding of how to deploy, consume and put APIs to use. Even with this knowledge and ability I'm continually blown away by the opportunities APIs afford, even without possessing any programming skills whatsoever.
One API I depend on for my daily monitoring of the API space is the Pinboard API. As I browse the web, using the Pinboard bookmarklet I can pin any web page for use later, then using the Pinboard API I pull these curated pages into my monitoring, reporting and story development platform. To take this feature one step further, when I star a Tweet on Twitter, Pinboard watches this and automatically bookmarks the Tweet, adding it to my curation as well.
This approach to using APIs has allowed me to define how I use bookmarking as well as what a favorited Tweet means in my personal world of online curation. Using APIs I'm able to wield this power, and drive my story curation and development lifecycle. Of course I wrote the code that interfaces with Pinboard API, but it still shows the ability to define and execute actions in my world using APIs.
As I was pondering this self-defined action that I use on a daily basis, I was trying to think of any new actions that I could define and add to my toolbox. I was looking through the Youtube videos from my recent #APIStrat conference, and I thought how nice it would be to turn these into audio segments available as podcasts through SoundCloud. After a quick search I found an IFTTT recipe that does this automatically when I flag any Youtube video for watching later and automatically uploads as an audio file to SoundCloud. Sweet!
This type of action again shows the power of being able to define and execute your own actions that you can take in your everyday worlds, but in this case you don't have to be a programmer to make it work. Using APIs I was able to define further meaning beyond just watching a video for later, something that ultimately increases the chance I will be able to consume a topic via my SoundCloud iPhone player as I'm walking somewhere, waiting for a plane or who knows where. Also #APIStrat gets the added benefit of syndication to SoundCloud as part of the action.
I'm not sure how to educate the masses that these potential recipes for taking action exist out there in the world, but it definitely makes me optimistic for the future of APIs and how they can benefit anyone, even if you aren't a developer.