A Suggested, And Sponsored Link Relation Engine For Hypermedia APIs

Sometimes I have ideas, that are sticky, meaning they won't leave my brain, but are not always concepts I personally enjoy exploring. This is just a little insight into the madness that is my brain, focus Kin...FOCUS! So, I found myself thinking last week about API monetization, while I was also updating my API design and hypermedia research--then, during this Reese's peanut butter cup moment, I came up with an idea for a suggested or sponsored link relation engine for hypermedia APIs.

First, I'd prefer to start with what I'd consider to be a hypermedia suggestion engine, that could provide external suggestions for related links to any structured data that is being returned via an API. It is a suggestion engine that an API provider, who has followed hypermedia principles as part of their API design, could use to augment the resources they are serving up. Such a suggestion engine would have to be pretty smart, and work from an existing index that API providers could train via an external API.

One possible example of this from my existing work, is present in a scientific research API, that might be serving up research papers, and with each API call you could potentially get some native related links for annotating, tagging, and other opportunities that are dictated by the API providers. But, what if the institution, where the research occurred could provide related links to other research going on at the institution, or maybe a governing scientific organization could suggest other related research or resources, and it was up to the API provider to whitelist or blacklist link relations that were included.

Taking this to the next level, which is inevitable, and I might as well be the asshole who suggest it, but what if API providers could approve a paid index of links to suggest as a link relation, for any product in the catalog. Sure you can add this product to your wishlist, or shopping cart, but you could also donate it to a non-profit organization, or buy it through a partner who will modify it for me, and deliver it to me in a way that improves on the original product experience. Such a link relation engine could inject valuable links into the API stream, and the API provider, and potentially developers could tap into this as a potential revenue stream. Of course, all links included would be fully vetted, and certified secure using a service like Metacert.

If you are still reading this, this link relation engine does not exist. This is just a random idea derived from the collision of several of my active projects, with a little forward thought of what could be one possible dystopian post-advertising world, API monetization world might look like. I'm sure, like current advertising, 90% of the links in a link relation engine would be total shit, but who knows, they might also add value to the increasing number of structured objects being served up via APIs, and maybe active as a next generation financial engine that is tailored specifically for the API economy.