Maintaining The API Community At Scale #APIStrat

The 7th edition of API Strategy & Practice wrapped up last week. It has been difficult to gather my thoughts with the election going on, but I wanted to shift my attention back to the API community for a bit. Steve Willmott and I started APIStrat back in 2012 to help establish an open, vendor-neutral community to discuss the technology, business, and politics of APIs -- we more than succeeded!

It always warms my heart when people come up to me and share that they didn't see anything different about APIStrat, from other events before they attended and that they do now. Steve and I worked our asses off to make it a rich, inclusive, and meaningful conversation around APIs. It makes me very happy to hear people seeing the event as we intended, and going home with a headful of API knowledge.

One thing I heard from several of the core members who have been there since the first one, and is something that has lingered in my mind, not just because of APIStrat, but also because of where are at in the wider API space -- is that the API world is expanding, and there are concerns regarding how we can maintain community. I consider our hard work in evangelizing APIs to be a success, as space is expanding like never before. Everybody is doing APIs, it isn't just a niche anymore. We are at the point we were with the web in 2001, and folks aren't asking if they should be doing APIs anymore--they are just doing them.

Many of us in the original group are tired. We've been at this for a while. Many of the younger ones are still easily excited and distracted by new technology. There are many new entrants who just need to hear the same old stories we've been telling for years so that they can just get up to speed. Many people expressed their concerns around maintaining community in the face of this evolution, and growth in the space. It leaves a pretty big smile on my face that we are having trouble scaling the API community -- maybe we should try micro-communities or a dev ops, no a containerized API community! ;-)

I don't know the answer. I'm confident we will find a way forward. I'm super thankful for the community we've built. It literally saved my ass this summer. I just wanted to put these thoughts out there, and let folks know I heard, and Steve and I care.