API Evangelist, Assistant, and Broker
I was in Philadelphia last week, hanging out with educational technology practitioners, and at one of the dinners I found myself talking to a young lady who was a digital learning assistant at a university. She spent her days, helping administrators, and faculty, when it came to understanding what digital resources and tooling were available, and assisting them to better understand how they can put them to use in their daily work.
This conversation left me thinking about the role I play in the API space. I long ago elevated myself above evangelizing any single APIs, a position I enjoy because of my partners 3Scale, Cloud Element, Restlet, and WSO2. I elevated myself into this role because I saw nobody else doing it across the space, and saw an opportunity to make a wider impact, beyond just peddling a single product or service. My conversation in Philly made me realize how much general API assistant I am in my daily operations.
The role of an API assistant, helping others understand that APIs exist, and how they can be applied in our everyday personal and business lives is an increasingly critical role in our society. How do you teach people they can pull corporate data from OpenCorporates, or Tweets from a specific #hashtag into a Google Spreadsheet? How do you help people understand that APIs make the everyday exhaust from your world
organize-able", accessible, and more "orchestrate-able", via APIs--without knowing how to code!
I've talked about my work as an API broker, where I help organize coherent stacks of APIs, for potential use in specific business verticals, and web, mobile, or even device based applications. I'm adding API assistance to this spectrum now, because an API broker addresses the professional business side of the API equation, but an API assistance addresses the individual side of the API equation. I hope this schism in my own existence as API evangelist, broker, and assistant, is also addressed at organizations, and independently in the API space, because we are sure going to need more expertise at these levels, if we are going to make all of this work.