Where Do I Start With APIs? The Independent Liberal Arts College Edition

I'm engaging in another conversation with a higher education institution about where to start with APIs on campus. A new CIO has assumed a leadership position, and some very forward thinking folks on campus asked me to come visit, talk with IT about APIs, and try to understand where they can get to work with APIs on campus--a perfect opportunity to get to work developing an API culture at Davidson College.

As their Twitter profile says, "Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college committed to access and equal opportunity." Sounds like a rich environment to get to work empowering students, teachers, and faculty using APIs. Which leaves at the familiar place of being asked by folks on campus, where do we start with APIs?

First we need a place to coordinate the getting started with APIs effort at Davidson with:

  1. Creating a Github Repo - To help facilitate the discussion, as well as store any code, data, and content that is generated.
  2. Publish a Github Pages - To help provide a web friendly destination to share content, information, and act as public face.
  3. Leverage Issue Management - To help establish an asynchronous communication stream around the initial API effort.

Second, let's start mapping out all the moving parts, that will be meaningful to APIs on campus:

Everyone involved, from IT, to students, including myself can use the Github repo, and the pages setup to support each of these areas, can be used to collectively establish a map of where to begin with APIs. Once a map of all these areas begins to come into focus, individual API opportunities will emerge, and become more clear. We are looking for the low hanging fruit when it comes to deploying APIs on campus.

We will use each page of this low hanging fruit project website as a workbench, and we'll use the Github Issues management as a communication channel for the work, providing an asynchronous, centrally located place to identify individual micro-projects that can be executed. Hopefully this work will spawn other Github repositories for each individual project, putting them into any Github Organization that makes sense -- this one lives in a low hanging fruit organization managed my API Evangelist.

This project is not an official project by Davidson College. The goal is to involve several key individuals on campus to help identify the low hanging fruit, then deploy individual projects within the institutional domain that can be pushed forward by campus IT, faculty, and students.