Five Years Of API Evangelist
03 Jul 2015
In July of 2010, I started researching what would be the next step in my career. I was VP of Technology at WebEvents global, and was in charge of the technical side of running conferences for SAP and Google. I enjoyed the work I did, scaling the technology to support the events, using the Amazon Cloud and APIs, but I was not fully satisfied in the events industry.
I clearly remember spending my Fourth of July weekend researching some possible next steps. Building on my strengths at the time, I looked at what I could do in the cloud computing space. My early research is still even online, forever preserved as a Google Site. The last update to the research was mid half way through July, when after a couple weeks of careful evaluation and contemplating, I saw the core of cloud computing was really about APIs.
I had an epiphany -- APIs were central to the recent social and cloud evolutions in the Internet, and as I looked deeper, I saw that web APIs were also beginning to play a central role in the mobile evolution as well. As I continued my research in July of 2010 I also noticed that everyone was focused on the technical aspects of APIs, discussing, often arguing about the technical merits of REST, and very few people were talking about the business side of successful API efforts.
Through my early research in cloud computing, and ultimately APIs, I had found my focus -- the business of APIs. My partner in crime Audrey Watters (@audreywatters) was also looking for her own direction, and we agreed that if she started Hack Education, I would help her run her server and other IT infrastructure, and if I started API Evangelist, she would help me learn to write, and craft better stories--some of the early stories were actually written or edited by her.
July 2010's research was all about finding my focus, and by August I purchased the domain apievangelist.com, where I would openly share my research, and by October I published my first story, which I think was appropriately titled, the API Economy. The plan was to research the business of APIs, while sharing my research in real-time via the API Evangelist site. Five years later, I am still doing what I originally set out to do, I've just gotten more organized about how I conduct my research, evolved my storytelling voice, and have expanded the focus beyond just the business of APIs, to what I consider to be the politics of APIs.
I couldn't be more happy with the work I've been able to do over the last five years. Something that wouldn't happen without the support of my partners 3Scale, Restlet, and WSO2--THANK YOU!!!! While I do have claustrophobic moments, where I freak out, questioning why the hell I do what I do, in 2015 I can see myself doing this for at least another five years. Who knows though, things could change, and go in a different way, at any point..but at the moment, I think API Evangelist will stick around.
From my current vantage point, the next five years will be focused more on the politics of APIs, continuing my work around the copyright of APIs, API patents, the importance of open API definitions, and advocacy around privacy, transparency, access, data portability, interoperability and security issues. I'll continue to rely on others to innovate around the tech of APIs, shining a light on the best practices, and work to understand how the business of APIs is evolving, as the API economy truly becomes a reality, but I feel the politics of APIs will be the biggest challenges we face in the next five years.
Thank you to all my readers, and people who support what I do. I really enjoy what I do, and from I can tell, there are a number of people, and companies who benefit from what I do, which keeps me going. I need as much help as I can, to make sure the API economy stays secure, accessible, transparent, and truly open for developers, in a way that includes end-users in the conversation, focusing on building healthy API driven platforms, that businesses, organizations, governments, and individuals can depend on.