Why APIs Should Be Designed By Linguists

I’m constantly evangelizing how APIs bring individuals and companyies out of their silos and stimulate conversations internally amongst distributed groups,co and externally with partners and the public.

During a federal government panel this Monday in Maryland, I was facilitating a discussion between NASA, GSA, the White House, with participation from Energy, FEMA and other agencies. It was mentioned several times that APIs were facilitating conversation beyond what just a data download does, in a way that changed culture, making APIs more about people than technology—something that is core to my mission as the API Evangelist.

A well crafted API, with essential building blocks like interactive documentation, blogs, forums, active social media accounts, create valuable feedback loops that stimulate conversation around valuable API resources, and the applications and sites that put them use.

Then later this week, at Gluecon in Colorado, I saw a talk from Rebecca Standig (@understandig), linguist and software engineer at Keen.io, that blew my mind, taking the concept of APIs and communication to a whole new level. Rebecca connected the dots between linguistics, the need for linguists to have programming skills, and the potential when they design APIs. I’m still processing everything she said, and told her I’d like to work together more to tell stories about lingistics and APIs, so there will be more stories on this subject, but I had to share my initial thoughts while I was processing my Evernote from the talk.

I’m always working to craft meaningful stories in the API space, that will help people understand the potential of APIs. Throughout my evangelism I’m encouraging companies, organizations and government agencies to employ APIs that will help stimulate conversation with employees, partners and the public. What Rebecca is proposing takes this to a whole new level for me, and opening up new possibilities for how we configure applications to communicate, in a way that is rooted in, and derived from our own understanding of how humans communicate.