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Expanding On The API Acronym

I really dislike acronyms, so the irony surrounding me being the API Evangelist is always present for me. API isn’t just about RESTful APIs to me. API is much more than just the technical, it is also the business and politics of our digital world–something that doesn’t come across in three letters.

As part of my storytelling, I enjoy unpacking the complexity that acronyms are often used to shadow, hopefully making the world of technology a little less intimidating for folks. While space out at lunch the other day I unpacked API and wrote this:

  • A - application - the action of putting something into operation.
  • P - programming - the action or process of writing computer programs.
  • I - interface - interact with another system, person, or organization.

I feel like this has helped unpack not just the acronym, but also the words behind them, helping better speak to what APIs actually do in my opinion. I feel like mobile applications always take the lion share of meaning when it comes to the meaning behind the word application. I also feel like humans are left out of the interface discussion. Storytelling around the acronym helps me provide a little more depth regarding what is API, giving me some easy definitions I can recall throughout my storytelling and API conversations.

Telling stories as allowed me to evolve as a technologist. I used to never see the problem with using acronyms as shorthand for technical complexity, but after telling thousands of stories about a single acronym, I’ve come very acquainted with how they are used to exclude and obfuscate not just technical complexity, but the business and political undertow that exist in technological circles. I really have come to dislike acronyms, and being the API Evangelist keeps this dislike front and center for me, helping me to remember to unpack the complexity whenever I can.