Day 2,638: APIs Are Dumb

November 21, 2017

It is one of those weeks where writing API stories, and doing my API work is completely uninteresting, and my three year old self is throwing a temper tantrum when it comes to doing anything. APIs are dumb. Why the hell would I care about this aspect of technology? Most people don’t understand what the fuck I’m talking about, and people keep doing really dumb shit with them, instead of working on the problems that really matter. Why do I keep doing what I’m doing? Why don’t I just go get a real job, make some real money, and give a shit less? Great question!

Most weeks I can just turn the API Evangelist persona on, and with a notebook full of ideas, and inbox full of questions, I begin writing the API blah blah blah. It just flows. This week it all seems dumb, and I have to fabricate any ounce of caring about APIs. Beyond APIs and Internet technology in general feeling like a pretty bad idea, I feel complicit in helping bring about this technological beast that is wreaking havoc on our world right now. Why the hell should I continue doing API Evangelist, when so many of my ideas can be used for exploitation, and just keep making rich white people richer? It just seems like a bad idea, so why shouldn’t I just shut things down and go find a meaningful job (does that exist)?

First, I always start with the basic API Evangelist mission: helping non-techies understand what APIs are, and how they are right under the hood of everything we are using that is digital. What I do will never receive venture capital, be profitable, and return measurable ROI. Few other companies, let alone individual care about a digitally literate world, they just want consumers, and refuse to see the correlation. I’m the one showcasing API stories consistently regardless of the latest trends, and focus on understanding what is happening outside the current popular areas of investment. I’m the one person that isn’t changing my tune based upon what my investors are telling me, and my storytelling doesn’t reflect where I am at in my runway.

Second, I’m working on important projects. I pushing forward the human services data API (HSDA), and if I get the bandwidth I’ll help lend a hand on Open 311, and work to standardize how we also report issues in cities around the glob. I’m studying how city, state, and federal governments can use common API management practices to generate the next generation of tax base and revenue from the valuable data, and content resources they are stewards of. I’m thinking about how we take back control from the big tech companies when it our personal data, and content. I’m also thinking about how Twitter, Facebook, and other API platforms are allowing their APIs to be abused by bots because it supports their bottom line, and strengthens their numbers–despite what it is doing to our democracy, our communities, and society. Who else is doing this?

Third, I just don’t want the greedy fucking people to win. I just want to keep being a monkey wrench in the works. I don’t think I’m going to win at this game. I don’t think I’m convince everyone of the right way of doing technology (is there one), but god dam I’m going to make it harder for the people with the money to always win. I’m going to make them spend more money. I’m going work to educate people about how the technology works, and show how we can all resist. On the days that I find it hard to care about educating people about APIs, or even the good APIs projects I’m on, being a wrench in the gears always brightens my day and puts a smile on my face. If nothing else, I’m going to just screw with your grand plans for world domination, and getting rich on our backs. On our data. On our personal lives. I’m going to make you work harder to exploit all of us.

Ok. I’m getting closer to being back on track. Just needed a little reminder of why I’m doing this. APIs are dumb. I’m pretty sure we shouldn’t be fucking doing them in the first place, however with all this technology, algorithms, and artificial stupidity in place, we need some way of making it all a little more observable, and APIs is the best we got. They are the best example I have of making black box algorithms a little more transparent, and how we can take back a little of that data exhaust we generate each day on our mobile phones and laptops. If nothing else, I just need to keep studying this API bullshit so I understand what they are doing, and how they are moving the bits and bytes around in this surveillance capitalism reality we’ve allowed to be constructed. So that when the time is right, I can throw myself against the machine and make it come to a halt, even for a brief moment.

Looking in the mirror: Ok, asshole. Go get em! You can do this. Stop being such a whiney bitch and keep writing stories and doing the research.


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