Writing and Working in a COVID-19 #BlackLivesMatter Uprising Storm

Business is anything but usual these days. I have a lot of time on my hands when it comes to writing and working online, but the reality in the chair is anything but easy. When I sit down to tackle even the most basic of tasks I can usually make it through about 50% of the work before I feel drained, and left with a blank screen for a brain. In addition to COVID-19 and the #BlackLivesMatter uprising, we also lost the kid this month. Making for a swirling emotional mess of a reality that really isn’t conducive to doing much beyond just reading a book or watching a movie. Looking through my notebook there are numerous half, or even complete stories about APIs I could be publishing, but my blank screen of a brain can’t even properly edit them, let along grock and finish many of the API stories I was pushing forward.

It is difficult for me on the best day to conjure up some storytelling about APIs here on the blog. With that said, it also can be useful to lose myself thinking about some technical topics if I can find ways to convince myself that they are meaningful in these times. Technology is no replacement for direct human action, but the forces we are up against are actively wielding API-driven technology against us, and pushing back on this has always been what API Evangelist is all about. It isn’t about just saying the Twitter API can be used for social justice, it is also about demonstrating to folks that the Twitter API is also being used to surveil and manipulate us. Pulling back the curtain on how all of this works is the cornerstone of what API Evangelist does, and I’m determined to find ways of doing this in service of the #BlackLivesMatter uprising.

This is one of those “getting back on the horse” posts. Where I just practice using my words again, and stringing them together into somewhat coherent sentences. Often times if I just force myself, and manufacturer some sort of urgency, I can get back on the horse. To where the words just flow. This persona is too well rehearsed to be shut off all together. There are too many stories still needing told. There are many ways in which I can use APIs to push back on what is happening today. I wish APIs weren’t the direct line of communication, surveillance, organization, and doing everything else in 2020, but they are. As much as I’d like to step away from technology, I can’t. I know too much about the pipes being laid to operate the public and private sector beauracracies we are seeking to cut the systemic rot out of. I know too much about the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other APIs that are being used to organize and manipulate us. I can’t step back even if I’m on shaky footing.

Writing is essential to me making sense of things. Without it I am increasingly lost in the noise of technology. I have taken about 20 five minute breaks while writing this post. My attention span is shit to begin with, but with mush brain and such little emotional bandwidth I have to accept this amount of distraction and just staring out the window to move forward even just a couple of sentences. The kid passing has put me on severely shaky footing. COVID-19 has increased my anxiety significantly. But the #BlackLIvesMatter uprising has given me hope. I’m hopeful that we can really begin making some meaningful system change in these times. It is work that won’t end even once the pandemic is over. I’m going to try and spend the weekend thinking deeply about how data and APIs can be used to push back on the machine right now. I know. I know. This sounds like techno solutions. It is. I acknowledge that. However, they are currently using data and APIs against us, so we have to at least understand these mechanisms and work to clog up the works, if not actually forcing some of the technology to serve our purposes. We can’t dismantle the masters house with his tools, but we sure can make his smart home a living nightmare by understanding how it works.