Making the API Realm Visible and Tangible

I think I am settling in on what I want to be doing for the next 30+ years. I want to make APIs visible and tangible. I enjoy doing API reviews at Bloomberg and feel defining rules that help standardize the public landscape is a meaningful thing to be doing. But I am curious at this moment, how do you make APIs something you can actually see so you can support operations, but also so that you can document this moment as it is passing by. I am already seeing how ephemeral and invisible all of this is and nobody notices or cares what we will be looking back at in 20 or 30 years. I think I’d like to be a librarian of the API universe.

After spending time upstairs in the Argosy bookstore in NYC over the holidays, I think I want to become a musty niche bookstore, but for APIs. I think will allow me to map the landscape and produce meaningful artifacts that help document what has been going on. I’d like to start documenting some of the special things I have in my possession like old Twitter and Facebook API documentation, but then begin documenting things that are happening right now, producing meaningful visual works that transform the world of tech into something a little more tangible. I am thinking about propaganda posters for API governance, movie posters for API producers. I think once I get going I will come up with other things. I just want to create poems and art that capture the moment, and transform what street cred I believe I have into something new and more purposeful.

I can use APIs.json and as the base for mapping the API realm–I just have to figure out how to bend everything towards being something physical in this endlessly virtual world. What matters and will stick as something physical? What is meaningful amidst the endless API abstractions of our lives? How do you grab a digital moment and turn it into something you can discover in a file cabinet 30 years later? This fascinates me. The ephemerality of the web intrigues me, both the good and the bad of it. I am starting to see things I wish I had documented better, like the demise of Twitter. If I had been creating or collecting more artifacts, I would have been able to tell the story of the role the API played in its downfall. I don’t want to let the next Twitter’s crash and burn without taking better photos of the collapse, implosion, and human toll.

Looking back, APIs are the only thing I’ve had any success with. I get them. I get the technical, business, as well as the politics of it. It is a unique intersection that I am uniquely equipped to make sense of. I love and hate the space. I can’t walk away from it, but I can’t also participate in the willfully blind futurity groundhog day spectacle any more. I see the benefits of APIs, but I also see their exploitation, or worse misdirection (Bad 301). I am committed to not turning away. I am committed to mapping things out as they are. The good and the bad of it. I am committed to trying to make it more tangible and visible, while maintaining the utility of my work. I do not care about blowing wind into the sails of API startups anymore. I am looking to do the shit work they don’t see as valuable, while holding the torch in between each cycle, making sure the light isn’t lost as each makes their way out the door. Someone needs to. There is just too much memory-holed wisdom lost with each venture capital round.