Exploring The Ways Can We Put API Driven Tools Like Known To Work
17 Apr 2015
I see a lot of software come and go. I adopt applications, tools, and online services for a variety of reasons, with some of these tools remaining a regular part my operations, with others coming and going with time. I'm currently abandoning Evernote, in favor of my own home brew note tool, while I'm also adopting a handful of new HTTP Client tools like Paw. There are a number of reasons these tools go away, sometimes the reason I needed them shifts, other times they evolve to a point where they are no longer useful to me, and other times they go away after an acquisition, or running out of money, and not being able to keep the lights on. In the end, when i find tools I believe in, and deeply integrate them into my life, and want to better understand how I can help ensure they will be successful.
One tool that I am using as part of my daily operations is Known. If you are unfamiliar, Known it is a simple, social publishing platform for your blog or website. I'm am personally invested in helping the Known founders find the customers they need to be successful, and as part of this effort I wanted to practice explaining Known to my readers, while I also expand my own understanding of the role Known can play in my own operations.
Reclaim Your Domain
For me, Known is about reclaiming my domain. Rather than posting tweets to Twitter, I post to Known, and using the Twitter API, Known publishes a copy of the Tweet to Twitter. I maintain the original copy of my Tweet. When I write a wall post I can publish to LinkedIn, as well as Facebook, with the original content staying in Known. This is all about POSSE for me, which is Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere. As a professional who operates in online world, it is extremely important to me to retain ownership over my content, and intellectual exhaust.
Managing My Life Bits
Known allows me to manage a significant portion of my life bits, which include simple status updates, posts, photos, bookmarks, and audio, then provides me with a handful of connected services like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and SoundCloud which I can then syndicate these life bits to. The important piece of this for me, is thinking about my life bits, independent of the services I use to publish and manage or publish these life bits. Employing a POSSE approach allows me to decouple these valuable life bits, and manage them in a central location, which helps me achieve my goal of keeping control my digital exhaust.
The cloud version of Known offers a handful of common channels for me to syndicate my life bits to, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, Foursquare, and SoundCloud. I'm not a big Foursquare user anymore, but I'm still active on all the other channels, and Known provides me a simple interface for managing syndication to these channels. The cloud version of Known is a great start for any individual, or organization looking to get a handle on their basic
Public or Private Page
Beyond the whole syndication aspect, Known provides an important aggregation, and centralization feature for me, by providing a single public, or private page (if I decide), where I can find all of my syndicated Known content. Since most of my presence is public, I keep it open as a single, public place where you can find all of the content I syndicate across Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. With a simple keyword search available, the platform provides a valuable resource that I am increasingly using to re-discover content across my network.
Plugins and Webhooks
Where Known really starts to get exciting for me, is when it comes to the extensibility via plugins and webhooks. First I can create simple webhooks for syndicating out my life bits to custom channels of my choosing. It is easy for me to setup custom webhooks, that can handle various syndication scenarios for me. After that I can create plugins, something I haven't done yet, so I can't speak intelligently about. I am working to carve out time to setup my own custom Known installation, and craft my first API driven plugin. I envision this as the gateway to not just syndicating to other public channels, but also to custom, private channels that I define.
API Driven Known Targets
The default syndication channels that Known provides, coupled with the opportunities the plugins and webhooks introduce, open up an endless amount of POSSE scenarios for me. I envision an entire API stack deployed to support various types of Known installations. I'd like to see API driven docker containers that can auto deploy with a push of a button to provide additional syndication channels for Known. Once you have a POSSE approach established with Known, defining new API driven channels that you can take advantage of, brokering further sydnication, transformation, and storage of all of my personal and business life bits, become much easier envision.
Who Could Put Known To Work?
This is where I need to work through some of my initial thoughts about Known, and push things to new levels. Known makes sense to me when it comes to reclaiming control over my content, while also giving me a single doorway to create additional channels for syndication and publishing, beyond the Twitter, and Facebook I am already working with. However when it comes to other folks who aren't familiar with reclaim, or POSSE principles, it becomes challenging to explain how it can be put to work.
First, I want to disconnect Known being a tool for individuals. Known can bring together any online channels used by an individual, organization, business, event, or any other entity you can think of, that would possibly have an online presence. What are some of the possibilities for putting Known to work:
- Businesses - To manage a centralized social media, blogging, and other online presence for a small to large business.
- Churches - Provide a central place for church groups to manage their online presence, from an interface everyone can use.
- Libraries - Give the local library a single way to control messaging online, and engage with constituents via a single
- Museums - Perfect for museum collections to manage the communication and messaging around exhibits that have online presence.
- Schools - Known has already made inroads into schools, perfect for overall institutions, as well as departments, classes, or individual projects.
- Public Space - Parks, dog parks, open space, and other public space often have a social media, and messaging presence, where Known can be put to work.
- Farmers Market - A farmers market needs an active presence to stay engage with constituents, and known can be used to control, and centralize messaging.
- Neighborhoods - Bringing it down to the hyper-local level, allowing people to work together and manage the messaging and communication within a neighborhood.
- Government - Providing a common platform for government agencies to work together on projects, as well as manage digital strategies for any size of agency.
- Group Projects - I can think of a number of other project scenarios that have an online presence ranging from open source projects, to public / private sector partnerships that could use Known.
This is just a start, when it comes to the potential uses of Known. I'll keep working on them, and post individual stories that help people see the ways they can put Known to work. I see the platform providing a free, low cost, asw well as a privately hosted solution that individuals and organizations can use to get a handle on their content and digital presence.
This is the toughest part of the Known proposition, is quantifying the endless scenarios of where it can be applied. In my opinion this is the potential, while also a significant challenge for the platform.
How Do I Explain What Known Is?
One of the biggest problems with concepts like Reclaim Your Domain, and POSSE is the average Joe or Jane citizen could often care less about these concepts, that is until you find a relevant context, tha is important for them--which is why I'm writing this post. If you are a photographer, you are going to care about your photos more, and think more critically about where and how you publish. If you are a writer, or creative professional, keeping track of your work, ideas, and intellectual exhaust should be important, but for many other people, businesses, and organizations, this is just not relevant or prominent in their existence.
Known is not a social media management tool, even thought it possesses many of the same characteristics. It is more about staying in control of content across all of your digital channels, in an easily extensible way. The trick is to help people see the potential, encourage enough developer to develop plugins, and craft valuable webhooks, so that individuals, businesses, organizations, institutions, and government agencies find it immediately useful. In a regular start-up, the focus would be on the most lucrative targets, like within the enterprise, but I'd like to see Known find an audience within some lucrative circles, as well as in the long tail of use, serving those who can't afford costly solutions, but could be providing a valuable community service.
The trick is going to be helping everyone understand the wide, API driven of potential, to the point where they will pay for a pro service, and help keep the platform thriving. Not everyone is moved by the important reclaim and POSSE concepts, but could really benefit from the easy of use, centralization, and management of their presence across the increasing number of platforms we are publishing to across any number of industries.
Where Would I Pay For Known?
I have upgraded my Known account to the pro version. It is important to me that I support them, and I use the tool every day so it is worth me paying for the service. Beyond that I'd be into paying for premium services, the ability to publish links, stories, and other items to specialty channels. Think event or blog syndication, or possibly tapping interesting transformation services that I can apply to my audio notes, podcasts, or other life bits. (translation, transcription, etc)
I also imagine in the future there being premium plugins that I can discover, and add to my Known projects with a push of a button. I'd be happy to pay developers a premium for these bells and whistles, something that Known could definitely take a cut of. Once I get more comfortable with plugin development, and the potential for API driven channels, I'm sure I'll have more ideas about areas I'd cough up cash for, within the Known ecosystem.
POSSE In Addition To Reciprocity
I am increasingly using Zapier, as what I call a reciprocity service. I use it to move valuable information between the cloud service I depend on. Countries establish reciprocity agreements for trade, Zapier gives me tools for managing trade between the digital spaces I operate between. Known adds a POSSE layer to my digital operations, where Zapier allows me to move things around, Known allows me to publish once, an syndicate wherever I need to. While I could hand code all of this myself, these services allow me to do it in a simple, extensible way, that saves me a lot of time and resources.
An Open Source Solution
In 2015, it is getting increasingly rare for me to adopt a new tool or service, if there isn't an open source aspect to it. Most of the time I end up depending on cloud services instead of the open source edition, but having the option to migrate my own platform, or help deploy customized solutions using open source version is important. In my opinion open source, software as a service, and APIs all work together in creating a winning business model, something Known is taking full advantage of.
The Known Team
Another important factor in all of this for me, is the Known team. I believe in Ben Werdmuller and Erin Jo Richey, the Known founders. I've spent enough time with both of them at the Reclaim Your Domain events we have organized to get to know them well. They don't just have the skills, they have the vision, and a healthy view of how the Internet should work. Ben believes that technology is an empowering force that makes the world better by leveling playing fields, informing citizens, and connecting us all, and with a background in cognitive science, Erin loves creating engaging, human-centric software within the context of sustainable businesses. #win #win
The Known Mission
Known is a start-up, but it has a larger mission, to help empower people through simple, standards-based, open source software, which also has free, and low cost cloud services for those without the resources to deploy all of it on their own. This type of approach to software is the future in my opinion. It is not just the open source software, in conjunction with a free and paid cloud model, it is also the embracing of APis as a distribution channel--this API-centric focus is why I believe in Known.
Making Sure We can Have Simple, Powerful API Driven Tools Like Known
I am writing this post, first to help me better understand, and articulate the potential of Known. I've been using for over a month now, and it is proving to be very useful in managing the daily syndication of content across my primary channels. I'm working to better understand the potential for webhooks and plugins, and extend it to better meet my own operational needs. Along the way I want to better understand how to on-board other people with the concept, whether they are into the reclaim or POSSE concepts, or just looking to get a better handle on the their social media.
Along the way I am going to tell stories about how I am using Known, in hopes of helping people learn how they can put it to work as well. Services like Known, are good for the API industry, and I want to see it succeed, so in addition to helping the platform find new users, I also want to help encourage the development of API driven plugins, and webhooks that can be employed via Known. I can see Known becoming an essential building block like I've identified Zapier as, I think it could become that important for API providers to consider offering a plugin for.
It is also important for me to help Known find success using its simple, pro business model, and potentially find future revenue opportunities, that help keep the lights on, but also don't change the platform in ways that take it down the wrong path. I trust Ben and Erin to make the right technological, and business decisions, what worries me is that people won't see the potential, and the importance of API, standards driven tools like Known, that help us take control of our digital personas. It often seems in this crazy tech driven world that the best products don't always win, and intend to ensure this doesn't happen to Known.
We need more tools like known that help empower everyone to own the valuable exhaust that they produce online daily, not ceding control to the endless waves of exploitative platforms and applications that seem to step up and try to own people's valuable life bits. Look for more stories about Known from me, as I continue to extend its functionality to help me maintain my POSSE stance when it comes to my digital presence.