{"API Evangelist"}

Trying To Define API Awareness

I have a regular call with a really smart API person who is trying to move forward a really cool project for the API space. It is some thought provoking voodoo and I need to be able to write about it--this is how I flush out my thoughts and move forward. He is not quite ready to talk about his project publicly, so I will just talk about and explore in terms of my API Evangelist research and how it applies to the area(s) of the API space he is looking to make an impact.

This topic spans several areas of my API research, but if I had to give it a single label I would call it API awareness. When you hear me talk about my monitoring the API space, API awareness is the result. I wanted to try and communicate this from my vantage point but also share with other analysts, practitioners, and even the average individual online today. This is my attempt to distil my approach to monitoring the API space and establishing a sustained awareness of APIs at any level.

Individual ("Normals")
It may sound crazy to you, but everyone should be API aware. No, they should be paying attention to APIs like I do, or even at the level of the average individual working in the tech sector, but they should have a baseline awareness, and here is my attempt at quantifying that:

The more we expose the average person to APIs, the more they will be able to absorb and understand. I've turned hundreds of average, non-technical folks on to the concept of APIs, and have seen them become evangelists and even API practitioners. Some move into API focused roles, but many are just are more successful in what they are already doing, from social media work to sending out their weekly newsletter.

I've always put API awareness for individuals into the same bucket as financial awareness. You shouldn't have an awareness of the inner workings of banking and credit industry, but you should have an awareness that you have accounts, who has access to them, and that you can move money around, and have different accounts for different purposes, with different providers--the same applies to the world of APIs.

API Practioners ("Not Normals")
When I first started writing this post, I had this section broken up into three groups: 1) Provider, 2) Service Provider, and 3) Analysts. Much of it ended up being redundant, so I'm going to share the complete list of what contributes to my API awareness, and depending on where you exist in the API spectrum (gonna have to use this one more), what matters to you will vary.

This is a master dump of my research, and the approach I have used to track on in the world of APIs since 2010--an analyst 100K view. However, API providers, service providers, evangelists, and analysts should possess a similar level of awareness--maybe not at the scope I pay attention to but employing some of the same tactics, applied to a smaller group of APIs either internally or externally. Here is what I'd consider a comprehensive definition of my API awareness stack.

API awareness spans many stops along the API lifecycle, and across a variety of the most common, and critical building blocks of what drives API ecosystems. Awareness doesn't come easy. It takes time, and have access to the right information, and signals, potentially across many different entities and domains--aggregating, filtering, and ranking is essential developing and strengthening your awareness. In the end, even with the same signals and information available, there will be many definitions of what is the necessary awareness.

I am glad I didn't break this into different buckets for different people. I think that is a dangerous thing for us to do. I think people should be curious and have agency the decisions regarding which signals should feed their awareness. How many APIs. Which APIs. Which companies, news, events, and other areas. Investment, patents, and other legal aspects. I don't think that all individual should be bombarded with the more complex inner workings of the API industry I pay attention to, but they should be able to make the decision to move beyond a basic level of understanding, and become an evangelist, or analyst--quantifying and developing the awareness they desire or need to achieve.

I'll stop there. This is a good first draft of what I consider API awareness. At the individual API level, across a collection or industry of APIs, and even at the analyst levels, potentially paying attention to many different APIs across a variety of different industries. Before I put this definition down, I am going to take it and apply it in two other ways: 1) Observability, "measure for how well internal states of a system can be inferred by knowledge of its external outputs", and 2) Rating, "establish a rating system that articulates where an API or provider exists on awareness and observability spectrum". We'll see where it goes. Thinking about this voodoo is helping me better organize some of the existing parts of my research, and hopefully help my friend out in his work as well.