Your Internal Dysfunction Is Not My API Problem

You hear a lot of discussion regarding public API vs private API. From my vantage point there is only web APIs that use public DNS, but I find that folks hung up on the separation usually have many other hangups about things they like to keep behind the firewall, and under the umbrella of private. These are usually the same folks who like to tell me that my public API stories don’t apply to them, and when you engage these folks in any ongoing fashion you tend to find that they are looking to keep a whole lot of dysfunction out of view from the public, and all the talk really has very little to do with APIs.

I spend my days studying the best practices across the leading API providers, and understanding what is working and what is not working when it comes to operating APIs. I have seven years of research I’m happy to share with folks, and I entertain a number requests to jump on calls, participate in webinars, do hangouts, and go onsite to do workshops and talks. I’m usually happy to do these things, and when it is a government agency, non-profit organization, and sometimes higher educational institutions, I am happy to these things at no charge. I like sharing what I know, and letting folks decide what they can use from the knowledge I’ve aggregated.

When I engage with folks I expect folks to not always be trusted–they don’t know me. However, I’m always surprised when folks think I have an agenda, looking to change them too fast, that I’m trying to shove something down their throat, and disrupt their position. First, I am always being invited in. I’m not a sales guy. I do not have anything to sell you except for my knowledge (which revenue goes to just goes back into doing what I do). There is regularly the quiet IT person who has carefully defended their position in the company and what they do not know for years, telling me this is all horse shit, and who do I think I am. Or the administrator who is always running around with their head cut-off, and feels the need to tell me that I do not understand them, and there is no way that any knowledge that I have is at all applicable to them–what the hell am I even doing here?

Hey, I’m just looking to share. If you don’t want it, I’m happy to tell me stories elsewhere, you don’t have to jump my shit. I’m genuinely trying to help, and share stories about what is working in other situations. I’m not looking to take your job, or make you do things you don’t have time or capacity for. Your dysfunction is not my API problem. I’m guessing this dysfunction is probably why you don’t have any sort of public API presence, and why your existing internal and partner APIs are not everything you’d like them to be. I am just going to quietly pick up my things and go back to what I was doing, I’m sorry that I’ve disrupted your chaotic world, and took up your time. I most likely won’t be back, but if you ever need to learn anything about APIs, and need a break, you know where to find me.

Note: If my writing is a little dark this week, here is a little explainer–don’t worry, things will back to normal at API Evangelist soon.