I pulled many valuable nuggets out of Alan Cooper's talk at SXSW, like the one that explains the rise of the sniper app. Near the end of his talk, I asked him why the business, UX and design communities are not embracing the current trend in API proliferation (a.k.a. Platformification) and what can be done to help designers and content strategists see that APIs are yearning to be designed.
To summarize the key points of Cooper's response. First, the trend in API proliferation is among the most important events on the Internet right now. Second, APIs are the most important interface to be designed, and visual interfaces are only the third most important interface. Lastly, and most provocatively, a designer who shies away from designing an API is not qualified to be a designer and is not worthy of their title. So what do each of these mean?
Make Tollbooths, Not Barricades
How many more examples will it take before the worlds of business, technology and design realize that plaformification is undeniable? Tumblr announced this week that it was looking for a person to lead its API offering in a kinder and gentler way. I'm assuming that someone over at Tumblr realized it was time to stop whining about lemons and make lemonade. Tumblr is just the latest in a long line of businesses to understand that a shift is taking place and that it should be in the business of building tollbooths rather than barricades.
ESPN has made its headlines available free to the public and has also started releasing monetized versions of more in-depth API products. When Disney, who owns ESPN, is giving its content away, then you know that something has got to be changing in the world. Disney and ESPN have followed in the footsteps of NPR and moved their resources and focus away from "the stick" and over to "the carrot." They have stopped trying to stop the people who want to use their content and instead figured out a way to make money off of it.