The API Economy Welcomes Its Early Trade Wars

I’m on a roll tonight, writing about tension between API owners and consumers. After some driving around California this week, I’ve had time to ponder three recent episodes with Netflix, LinkedIn and Craigslist. This is my last post tonight, and was inspired by a Tweet from James Watters (@wattersjames):

I thought about his Tweet for the last week and he’s right. While it’s easy to run and get our pitchforks in these situations and demonize API owners, or bitch about how much API developers suck, this all is just the beginning of something greater--the API economy.

Trade wars are an active part of our global economy, and with the growth in the number of APIs, the tension between API owners and consumers is only going to grow. We can’t see them as black or white, we will have to evaluate them on a case by case basis.

I think my three posts tonight reflect the potential diversity in issues.

  • Netflix - The movie industry isn’t quite ready for public APIs, other change required first, sorry developers
  • LinkedIn - A little communication can go a long ways in how we approach terms of service violations
  • Craigslist - Sometimes the market just demands that you need an API, allowing you to tame scrapers

James Watters Tweet definitely made me look at this issues in a different light. And that is what I love about this space, it is constantly changing, forcing me to constantly reevaluate how I see things and tell stories in the space. And even before I can finish this post John Sheehan (@johnsheehan) has got me thinking about another angle all three of these stories share: