Kin Lane

I’ve been working in the technology space for over 20 years. I remember building my own relational databases, and generating stacks of floppy disks to distribute software to clients. After spending much of my career online, I strongly believe in the openness and distributed nature of the Internet, and that the World Wide Web will be the vehicle to deliver global change, but unfortunately I worry that not all this change will be for the better.

I have lived as a programmer, database administrator, architect, product developer, manager and executive, with experience in business development, sales and marketing--all while living with chronic entrepreneurialism. In this decade I’ve rolled all that experience into a new persona, one that focuses exclusively on APIs--called the API Evangelist.

I spend my days studying the business and politics of the API and telling stories from the space. I thrive on monitoring the API industry in real-time, but also feel looking back at the history, as well as tracking on new trends that are emerging.

I’m a full time evangelist, not for a single API, but for APIs in general. My focus is not just on developers, but helping the rest of the world understand the value and potential of APIs.

You can follow my work on the business of APIs via apievangelist.com, the politics of APIs via apivoice.com and my personal thoughts on kinlane.com. I encourage engagement via Disqus on my blogs and via Twitter @KinLane.
Jul 31
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Aug 22
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"Accelerators as an API to Venture Capital" by @PaulSingh @500Startups http://t.co/JgsxHERf #GrowConf
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DataSift Launches New Features to Help Non-Technical Staff Analyze Big Data http://t.co/pMDi7MWp via @betakit
@nik
Aug 21
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11 More Federal Departments and Agencies Have Published Their API Digital Strategies

I’ve been running a monitoring script every night, so that I could tell when any of the federal department and agency have launched their digital strategy pages, per Barack Obamas Presidential directive that every Federal Government agency should have an API, and the White House CIO’s strategy, entitled “Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People

I noticed that many of the departments and agencies aren’t properly using HTTP response codes, and when I pulled pages, I often get 302 redirects to 404 pages, so I tended to treat 301, 302, 500 as 404’s. Today, I noticed that some of them actually were redirecting to their digital strategies, published at alternate locations, other than directed by the White House strategy, which was [domain]/digitalstrategy.

Recognizing this I put in some logic to handle redirects and check if it was a valid strategy page, and after re-running the script I found 11 more digital strategies published, bringing the total to 14 to date:

  Executive Departments or Agencies Digital Strategy
Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Department of Commerce
Department of Defense (DOD)
Department of Education (ED)
Department of Justice (DOJ)
Department of Labor (DOL)
Department of Transportation (DOT)
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
General Services Administration (GSA)
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
Social Security Administration (SSA)
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

With 246 federal departments and agencies, we have a long way to go, but I’m optimistic that we’ll see enough publish their strategies, identify enough high value data-sets to deploy as APIs, so that the developer community can get to work building some important web and mobile apps or data visualizations.

Once the other departments and agencies see what is possible, hopefully we can get more of them on board, creating somewhat of a domino effect for API deployment, getting us closer to a reality where machine readable data is as common as the PDF in Washington DC.



from API Evangelist http://bit.ly/QoI61j
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API Automation Platforms

I’ve been doing lots of research into the future of web APIs lately, and one area that is definitely gaining more traction is the ability to automate tasks, by defining triggers and actions on top of web APIs.

If you’ve heard about API automation, it’s probably due to the attention If This Then That (IFTTT) and Zapier have been getting. While these are two of the most popular platforms currently, I wanted to dive in and understand the entire landscape.

Currently I’ve found 8 API automation platforms:

Elastic.io - Elastic.io is an API integration and orchestration platform for non programmers, offering a simple tool for users to create and run data/API mashups directly from the browser, to automating simple tasks between API platforms.
If This Then That (IFTTT) - IFTT is a service that allows anyone to built connections driven from APIs by building channels made up of triggers and actions, bundled into whats IFTT calls recipes, which are triggered every 15 minutes.
MashableLogic - MashableLogic is a mashup development platform that provides a system for leveraging API’s by turning them into re-usable components that can be combined to compose software solutions.
Tarpipe - Tarpipe provides a platform for automate tasks, creating workflows between apps to automate low value tasks, generate activity streams from multiple apps in one place, sync data from one app to another as a background task, and publishing of content to multiple API locations.
Wappwolf - Wappwolf is focused on deconstructing the barriers of the Cloud, by connecting your Evernote, Facebook, Flickr, and other web services / apps to Dropbox, allowing users to drag & drop files into a predefined folder on Dropbox and automatically convert and sync to your favorite places.
We-Wired Web - We-Wired Web enables users to define automated tasks using over 50 popular web services using APIs that execute periodically.
Yahoo Pipes - Pipes is a composition tool to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web. Like Unix pipes, simple commands can be combined together to create output that meets your needs.
Zapier - Zapier uses what they call a zap to deliver a combination of a trigger and an action using APIs, allowing users to drag and drop to build new zaps and run in background or manually from a dashboard.

API automation platforms provide a new way for developers and non-developers to put API resources to use for business or personal tasks. These automation platforms provide a new opportunity for companies looking to deploy APIs, providing additional channels for distribution and user acquisition.

If you know of any API automation platforms I missed, let me know.



from API Evangelist http://bit.ly/NEtDE2
Aug 20
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Squashing third-party apps means pain for users: @mathewi makes an argument against Twitter’s new API restrictions: http://t.co/qiM1hxxG
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API Evangelist Partners Up with Singly To Evolve The Social and Personal API Space

The world around us is being redefined and a new currency is taking shape. Tweets on Twitter, wall posts to Facebook, pictures on Instagram, files on Dropbox and health data via Fitbit are emblematic of the emerging API-driven economy.

This data isn’t just social, nor just a currency. It is vital personal data that contains details from intimate aspects of our daily lives. Platform players like Facebook and Twitter have shown through their APIs the possibilities that emerge when developers can build, unfettered with their own creativity on top of this data — enriching people’s lives in a richer, more connected way.

With the number of social and personal data APIs available today, it is getting increasingly difficult for developers to keep up to speed on which platforms are most important to their end users, the technical differences between each platform’s APIs and where to keep up with the changes from each platform as they are rolled out.

Even with all this confusion, there is help:

  • API Evangelist delivers news about the business of APIs and best practices for API owners, politics around API management and developers rights, in hopes of providing insight into which APIs are delivering the most value for the API space and application developers
  • Singly provides a single API with which developers can build against multiple social and personal data API platforms using a single authentication model, standardized endpoints, a common object model and a whole host of solutions for challenging infrastructure issues that data intensive applications face

We believe the industry needs more leadership and content and we have partnered up to deliver:

  • Real-time news, changes and updates about top social and personal data platforms Information about the business of APIs and best practices from direct experience with top social and personal data APIs
  • Technical details from daily monitoring and integration with top social and personal APIs Politics and legal issues around personal and social data, how this impacts end users, API owners and developers
  • Data about how developers access and use social and personal data in their applications A larger voice for developers in a space, where currently API owners dominate the conversation Education, access and greater awareness to end users of their personal and social data Assistance for API owners to better reach and leverage the API developer community

In spending time with Jason Cavnar (@jasoncavnar), Jeremie Miller (@jeremie) and the Singly team, it’s clear they have a very valuable and unique perspective when it comes to API consumption and the future of personal data — not only for consumers and developers but also that will benefit the platforms themselves. Every day they are monitoring and consuming the personal and social data flowing through the most important APIs in the space and I can’t wait to tell the stories of their journey and share their insights along the way. Keep an eye out for these stories in the coming weeks.



from API Evangelist http://bit.ly/Rc2JTk
Aug 19
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This Week Is First Milestone in White House Roadmap for an API Driven Digital Strategy

It will be 3 months since the White House CiO Steven VanRoekel released a federal API strategy, entitled “Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People”, part of the Executive Order 13571, directing all federal departments and agencies to make open data, content and web APIs the new default.

This Thursday, August 23rd 2012 will be the first major milestone for departments and agencies, where they should have met two goals:

  • 2.1 - Engage with customers to identify at least two existing major customer-facing services that contain high-value data or content as first-move candidates to make compliant with new open data, content, and web API policy
  • 7.1 - Engage with customers to identify at least two existing priority customer-facing services to optimize for mobile use

I’ve been monitoring 246 departments and agencies and so far three have released drafts of their strategy:

Department of Commerce
Department of Education (ED)
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

While the Department of Commerce and Department of Education have only published paragraphs discussing how they are engaging with users, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has identified three datasets for the web API portion and two optimized for mobile use. All three have published their digital strategy in HTML, XML and JSON formats, meeting the requirements of “machine readable by default”.

I anticipate we’ll see many more agencies releasing their digital strategies this week, but there is no way to tell how many agencies will be able to get on board with the CIO’s strategy in time. No matter what, the next 3 months will be critical time for APIs in Washington DC, not just because of the presidential election, but the end of November will be the next milestone where agencies are expected to have established an agency-wide governance structure for developing and delivering digital services via web APIs.



from API Evangelist http://bit.ly/OO4NBt
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Hey, Twitter — shouldn’t it be about the users? http://t.co/zrckHCaK
Aug 18
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Presenting 5K to Winners of the Techcrunch NYC Hackathon

While contracting with CityGrid this spring, one event I sponsored and participated in was the TechCrunch NYC Hackathon.  The hackathon was definitely one of the larger hackathons I’ve attended, filling an entire warehouse.  

I gave a workshop on how to use the CityGrid hackathon, then after the hackathon was over, my co-worker Prashanth Ramdas and I got on stage and presented 5K to the winners, WhatNow, a local discovery service.




from Kin Lane http://bit.ly/N89ZjG