{"API Evangelist"}

Explaining My Work Around APIs In Higher Education To Institutions

I’m needing to quantify the work i do around APIs in higher education for a university in the U.K., so I figured I’d craft into a story that I can share with my readers, and potentially other schools who would ask what it is that I do.

I am interested in APIs in higher education because I feel strongly that our institutions are a fertile environment for ensuring that the next generation of our society possess the digital literacy they will need to navigate and find success in our increasingly digital world.

When I mention that higher education institutions should be incorporating APIs into daily operations, most folks immediately think of a very technical, IT directed effort, which is one layer to the discussion that should be considered, but ultimately it is about developing an awareness, and engagement by administration, faculty, and the students with the increasingly public APIs that surround us, as well as internal institutional APIs.

Our personal, and business lives are moving into the cloud. We are increasingly dependent on web-based and mobile applications in many aspects of our lives, and a growing number of these software services have APIs, and API-enabled actions that can be taken by anyone, even non-developers.

My mission as the API Evangelist is to help everyone be aware that APIs exist, and that they are there to assist you in your personal and business life. Which brings me back to higher education institutions being an important place to expose students, and faculty to the benefits of APIs—in preparation for the increasingly API driven world unfolding around us.

While I pay attention to over a 100 categories of APIs, let’s take one area, photos and images, and use as a backdrop for what I do. I pay attention to over 25 photo and image APIs that provide image related services for developers, as well as direct access to the popular photo and image platforms we often depend on like Flickr and Instagram.

As the API Evangelist I seek to pay attention to three key layers of the API space.

Technology of APIs - The geeky detail of how APIs work.

Business of APIs - The business profile behind any online service.

Politics of APIs - The often complex politics behind the curtain.

APIs are much more than just technology and when you compare platforms like Flickr and Instagram which both act as photo sharing platforms, but have widely different approaches to the technology, business, and politics of each of their APIs. Sometimes it is just small details that can make the difference in whether or not a platform is the right choice or not for any individual or business.

Beyond the technology, business, and politics I also pay attention to a handful of important trends that are growing out of the API space, to support API consumers.

Realtime - What options are there to interact in realtime.

Aggregation - Details on API data and information aggregation.

Reciprocity - Approaches to moving data from one system to another.

I’m not just about watching, and monitoring what is going on in the API space, my mission demands that I take what I learn and produce content that everyone else can benefit from. To fulfill this, I take all of my curation, analysis and awareness, and I work to create rich content that is designed for the widest distribution possible:

I strongly feel that it isn’t enough that I'm doing all of this work online, I’m also invested in stimulating in-person conversations in the following formats:

API evangelism for me is not just about educating developers that APIs exist, it is about bringing awareness to the masses that APIs exist, and they are just the next evolutionary layer of the web that has penetrated almost all aspects of our lives. I focus on bringing an awareness of APIs to:

Helping everyone understand the API undercurrents that are occurring right now all around us, is my mission as the API Evangelist. Everyone needs to understand that APIs exist, and have a basic understanding of how they can put them to use in their personal and business world. This isn’t some grand, techno vision being sold from Silicon Valley that I'm looking to sell to universities, this is about what is already happening around us on the web, via our personal mobile devices, our homes, businesses, cars, and much much more. API Evangelist is about helping regular folks see what is happening, understand as much of it sa they can, allowing them to take meaningful action with the context of their lives.

Continuing to bring this higher education API venn diagram tighter, is additional work I’m doing with in two very quiet, but extremely important initiatives.

To do my work I use my own custom developed internal system, where I aggregate information about over 2500 APIs, 1500 RSS feeds, 2500 Twitter accounts, and 750 Github accounts. From there, all of my short form and long form content, as well as presentations, and other supporting research gets published to 75 individual open source research projects managed using Github. My intent is to make sure all of my research, and resulting data is publicly available in open formats, allowing anyone to fork, extend, and expand on what I do.

How can my research help your institution better understand, internalize, and apply APIs?

You can visit my research on APIs in higher education here:

Here are some other recent stories I've published recently in the area of APIs and education: