Oracle vs Google: APIs Are Kind Of Hard To Understand
11 May 2016
One of the things that stood out for me reading through the Oracle v Google trial coverage today was Sarah Jeong's acknowledging how APIs are kind of hard to understand, and is something that is casting a shadow over the case -- something that is probably my top concern.
The whole thing where APIs are kind of hard to understand — still casting a shadow over this case— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) May 10, 2016
Also pointing out what I think is true of the Oracle legal team:
I am not entirely sure this Oracle lawyer understands what an API is, I'm not entirely sure I understand what an API is— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) May 10, 2016
While this might be more about bringing things down to a lower level for "normals", I think it still represents how difficult it is for people to grok what APIs are:
jfc I think both sides have brought LITERAL PHYSICAL FILE CABINETS as visual aids to explain what a API is— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) May 10, 2016
Then continuing with more of the skeuomorph theater:
Google's has a big 8.5x11 printout propped up on it labeled "java.lang" and the top drawer is labeled "Math" in very big Arial Black letters— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) May 10, 2016
Then I guess we need to make some API calls? IDK
he literally opened the top drawer and pulled something out and waved it around to explain— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) May 10, 2016
None of which I think is helping anyone involved:
at this point, I am not entirely sure APIs are real— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) May 10, 2016
I agree with with Sarah. She's a super smart chick, and if all the theater is confusing her, I can only imagine what effect it will have on the jury. What is code, what is API, what is definition, and what actually runs, or is there to enable and facilitate interoperability is blurry when you are in the game--I cannot even image anymore what it is like for the normals.
The only thing that keeps me optimistic in all of this is the possibility for some API literacy lessons for the masses, amidst all the theater. I guess we have to see how it goes and hope there are more opportunities to help folks understand what APIs actually are.