You Thinking I Mean REST When I Say API Is About Your Limited Views, Not Mine
16 Nov 2017
I’m fascinated by the baggage people bring to the table when engaging in discussions around technology with me. A common opener for many conversations with season technologists centers around REST not penciling out as everyone thought, failing to be the catch-all solution, and will quickly move to how I feel about some new technology (GraphQL, gRPC, Kafka, other) making my work irrelevant. I wish I had some quick phrase to help folks understand how this line of questioning demonstrates their extremely limiting views of the tech sector, as well as my work with APIs, but alas I find silence usually does the job in these situations–allowing everyone to quickly move.
For me, application programming interface, or API, is all about finding the right interface for programming against for a specific application. I’d say the closest things that anchors my belief system to REST, is that I tend to focus on leveraging the web when it comes to defining the web because it is low coast, usually well known, and avoids reinventing the wheel. I’m not a RESTafarian, and you will not find me online arguing the finer details of REST over other approaches. It just isn’t my style, and I leave it to ya’ll to work out these finer details, and share the stories about what is working, and what is not working in your operations.
Your assumptions around what APIs means to me demonstrates your limited views, only partially because of the technological underpinnings. The technical details of API is only 1/3 of the equation for me, and the majority of my research and storytelling focuses on the business and politics of doing APIs, but I’m guessing you aren’t aware of this. I find that the technology definitely sets the tone for API implementations and conversations, but the ones that actually make a significant impact always transcend the technology, and help acknowledge, and understand the other aspects of operating online which is making doing APIs a good or bad thing. From your opening statements, I’m guessing our conversation won’t be transcending anything.
I appreciate you taking a moment to share your limited view of APIs and what I do. You’ll have to excuse me for not having much to say, but after doing this for seven years I know that I will have little effect to shifting your limited views of what is API, and what it is that I do as the API Evangelist. I know that you feel pretty strongly REST APIs didn’t deliver, but I’m pretty busy helping folks understand how they can effectively manage their digital resources on the web, and securely share and provide access to their data, content, and algorithms using web technology. I don’t see the need for managing and moving our these digital bits going away anytime soon, and I find my time is better spent avoiding the political eddies that swirl at the edges of the API mainstream.