You Can Lead A Horse To Water But You Cannot Make Them Drink--The API Edition

I have seven years of API research available at I regularly publish short form, and long form versions of this information on my blogs on a weekly basis. I publish prototypes, demo websites and portals, and develop API training curriculum for use across a wide variety of industries. I regularly take versions of my API research, and rework, rebrand, and dial in to speak to a specific company, organizations, institution, agency, or industry. In many cases I make this information freely available, helping make sure it is available to those who need it. Despite all this work, many folks who are already doing APIs refuse to read, listen, and learn from what is already going on in the API space, and doomed to repeat the mistakes many of us have already made and learned from in our API journeys.

Many folks don’t really understand my motivations and think I have some sort of agenda to sell them something, disrupt their current reality, or other uninformed perspective. Ultimately, not trusting what I’m putting out there. I guess viewing that the water is poised in some way. Others don’t feel they need it, either because they feel like they have all the answers, or the problems haven’t become a reality in their worlds yet, so my solutions seem irrelevant. I find it tough to argue with someone about preventative care when it comes to their API operations, when they spend their days triaging bugs, problems, and legacy technology challenges. They are fire fighters, water isn’t for drinking!

A long standing example of this can be found in the hypermedia realm. No matter how much some very smart people, with a wealth of experience deploying and managing APIs warn about challenges with maintaining API SDKs and clients, some folks will never see it as a problem until they actually face it themselves. I can showcase endless numbers of healthy practices extract from companies like AWS, Twitter, and Twilio for people to learn from, but many folks will never see their relevance until they directly experience the problem. Most people have trouble looking forward, as well as stepping outside their own API operations and looking at them side by side with other leading API pioneers. They are different. Special. Often times, people never even engage in these thought exercises at all. There just isn’t the room in their operations for thinking proactively.

I regularly get frustrated when my clients, or people I’m asked to speak with about healthy API practices actively ignore, criticize, and dismiss what I’m sharing. I shouldn’t. I can’t force people to trust me. I can’t force people to drink from the water I’m providing. All I can do is plant the seed in their minds that there is water over here when you get thirsty. It seems to be a chronic condition across many industries, that folks only drink when they are super thirsty, after they get dehydrated, rather than proactively drinking water regularly throughout the day. In the end, my energy is better spend doing what I do best–researching, then openly sharing what I’m learning across the API space from other people doing APIs well. My job will often involves leading a horse to water, but does not ever involve forcing anyone to drink. I considered creating a blog called API Water Boarding, but it just didn’t seem like a good idea. ;-)