I’ve been profiling a number of market data APIs as part of my work with Streamdata.io to identify valuable sources of data that could be streamed using their service. A significant portion of the APIs I come across are making it difficult for me to get at the data they have because of their views around the value of the data, intellectual property, and maintaining control over it in an API-driven world. These APIs don’t end up on the list of APIs I’m including in the profiling work, the gallery / directory, and don’t get included in any of the stories I’m telling, as a result of this tight control.
The side effect of this is I end up getting repeated sales emails and phone calls asking if I am still interested in their data. If there was just one or two of these, I’d jump on phones and explain, but because I’m dealing with 50+ of them, I just don’t have the bandwidth, and I have to move on. The thing is, I’m personally not interested in their data. I’m interested in other people being interested in their data, and being an enabler to helping them to get at it. However, since I can’t actually profile the APIs, create OpenAPI definitions for the request and response structure for inclusion in the API gallery / directory I’m building, I really don’t need their APIs in my work.
I know these platforms are protective of their data because it is valuable. They should be. However modern API management allows for them to open up the sampling of everything they have to offer, without giving away the farm. This allows enablers, analysts, and storytellers like me to test drive things, profile what they have to offer, and include within our applications. Then my users find what they want, head over to the source of the data, sign up for API keys, talk to their sales staff about what data sets they are interested in. I’m just a middle man, a broker, someone who is looking to enable engagements with their data. I’m only interested in the data, because I understand it is valuable to others, not because I am personally interested in doing anything with it.
This reality is common amongst data brokers who live in the pre-API era. They don’t understand API management, and they don’t understand how innovation using APIs work. They still rely on a pretty closed, tight-gripped approach to selling data. API enablers like me don’t have the time to mess around in these worlds. There are too many APIs out there to waste our time. I’m looking to profile the best quality market data source, that are frictionless to get up and running with. I’m not looking for free data, I understand it costs to get at. I just want to send leads their way, but I need to be able to profile what you have to offer in detailed, in a machine readable way. In the end, it doesn’t matter, because these providers won’t be around for long. Other, more API-savvy data providers will emerge, and run them out of business–it is the circle of API life.