Learning About APIs Has To Be Relevant And Interesting
18 Oct 2016
I am working on a project with a 16-year-old young lady to extract and tell a story using the YouTube API. I'm pretty excited about the project because the young lady happens to be my daughter Kaia Lane. If you've ever seen my API Blah Blah Blah t-shirt, you've seen her work. Historically she could care less about APIs, until recently when pulling data about one of her favorite YouTube stars came up--suddenly she is interested in learning more about APIs.
During regular chatting with my daughter, I shared a story on the entire history of Kickstarter projects broken down by a city. She is a little geeky and likes Kickstarter, so I figured I'd share the approach to telling stories with data, and said that if she ever wanted help telling a story like this using YouTube, Instagram, or another platform, that she should let me know. She came back to me a couple days later asking to learn more about how she could tell a story like this using data pulled from one of the YouTube stars she follows.
Ok. I have to stop there for a moment. My 16-year-old daughter just asked me to learn more about APIs. :-) As an old goofy dad who happens to be the API Evangelist, I am beside myself.
I'm not 100% sure where this project will go. Right now I'm just seeing what data I can pull on Dan & Phil's video game YouTube channel, and from there we'll talk more about what type of story we want to tell about their followers and get to work pulling and organizing the data we need. I couldn't think of a tougher audience to be trying to get her interested in APIs. She isn't going to care about APIs, wants to learn about APIs, let alone become proficient with APIs unless they are relevant and interesting to her world.
I do not think this lesson is exclusive to teaching 16-year-olds about API. I think this applies to ANYONE potentially learning about APIs. I am a big fan of EVERONE learning about APIs because they are the plumbing that moves our bits and bytes around in our personal and professional worlds. The more we are aware and the more we know we can put APIs to work, the more successful we are going to be in our lives. I want EVERYONE to open up and learn about APIs for this reason, but I REALLY REALLY want my daughter to find success in this way.
Just something to consider, as we are trying to help key internal, essential partner and other public stakeholders understand the API potential. How can we present APIs in a way that is relevant and interesting? Otherwise, most people probably aren't going to care, and it will all just be API Blah Blah Blah!