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  • 1. API IntroductieDe API-Koning, SETUP Utrecht, 12 April 2012 , Anne Helmond www.digitalmethods.net
  • 2. API introductionAn application programming interface (API) is a sourcecode based specification intended to be used as aninterface by software components to communicate witheach other. An API may include specifications forroutines, data structures,object classes, and variables.(Wikipedia)
  • 3. APIApplication Programming Interface“this refers to a set of tools that developers can use toaccess structured data.” (boyd and Crawford)“Machine-facing interfaces for your application” p. 331“software interface to your website” p. 332“weaving the Guardian into the fabric of the Web” p. 331
  • 4. Web API / web serviceWhen used in the context of web development, an APIis typically a defined set of Hypertext Transfer Protocol(HTTP) request messages, along with a definition of thestructure of response messages, which is usually in anExtensible Markup Language (XML) or JavaScript ObjectNotation (JSON) format. While "Web API" is virtually asynonym for web service, the recent trend (so-calledWeb 2.0) has been moving away from Simple ObjectAccess Protocol (SOAP) based services towards moredirect Representational State Transfer (REST) stylecommunications.[5] Web APIs allow the combination ofmultiple services into new applications known asmashups.[6] - (Wikipedia)
  • 5. The web as platformHistorically, some types of software like desktopoperating systems have been called platforms becausethrough their APIs they provide the foundation on whichother programs are built. The phrase web as platformrefers to fact that as web sites start providing their ownAPIs, they too are becoming a platform on which otherprograms can be built. (Programmableweb)
  • 6. Programmable webDefinitionally, a “platform” is a system that can bereprogrammed and therefore customized by outsidedevelopers—users—and in that way, adapted tocountless needs and niches that the platform’s originaldevelopers could not have possibly contemplated, muchless had time to accommodate.[T]he key term in the definition of platform is‘programmed’. If you can program it, then it’s aplatform. If you can’t, then it’s not. - Marc Andreessen
  • 7. APIs and Web 2.0A Platform Beats an Application Every Time - O’Reilly 2005
  • 8. Flickr: blog this photo
  • 9. cross-platform realtime photo search
  • 10. APIs and mashups
  • 11. IFTT: combining cloud services
  • 12. IFTT: combining cloud services
  • 13. IFTT: combining cloud services
  • 14. IFTT: combining cloud services
  • 15. IFTT: combining cloud services
  • 16. IFTT: combining cloud services
  • 17. IFTT: combining cloud services
  • 18. IFTT: combining cloud servicesan interface for programming the application programming interface
  • 19. API calls
  • 20. request your own data (limited) through API calls
  • 21. archiving your own data
  • 22. archiving your own data
  • 23. analyzing your own data
  • 24. API literature
  • 25. API literatureIn relation to user interface/programming interface:Cramer and Fuller 2008In relation to the volatility of methods: Helmond andSandvig 2010In relation to proprietary API calls: Berry 2011In relation to Big Data: boyd and Crawford 2011In relation to data gathering skills: Manovich 2011In relation to scraping: Marres and Weltevrede 2012
  • 26. API critiqueshttp://blogs.igalia.com/vjaquez/2011/05/26/software-architects-and-api-designers/
  • 27. #1 limited API callsThere are limits to how many calls and changes you canmake in a dayAPI usage is rate limited with additional fair use limitsto protect Twitter from abuse.https://dev.twitter.com/docs/things-every-developer-should-know
  • 28. #1 limited API calls
  • 29. #2 changing APIs
  • 30. #2 changing APIs
  • 31. #2 changing APIs
  • 32. #2 changing APIs
  • 33. #2 changing APIs“This document and the APIs herein are subject tochange at any time. We will version the API, but maydeprecate early versions aggressively.” - Love, Delicious.http://delicious.com/help/api
  • 34. #3 APIs and control http://www.socialsignal.com/system/files/2007-07-30-api.gif
  • 35. #4 APIs and access“Register for a free API key and get 133% morequeries/day.” Topsy
  • 36. #4 APIs and accessTwitter Inc. makes a fraction of its material available tothe public through its APIs. The ‘firehose’ theoreticallycontains all public tweets ever posted and explicitlyexcludes any tweet that a user chose to make private or‘protected.’ Yet, some publicly accessible tweets arealso missing from the firehose. Although a handful ofcompanies and startups have access to the firehose,very few researchers have this level of access. (boydand Crawford 2011)
  • 37. # 5 ethics: APIs “versus” scrapingThere are different data gathering methods: The API isthe polite way of gathering data and scraping could beconsidered the impolite way of harnessing data: “Youcan arrange digital research methods on a spectrum ofniceness. On the one hand you use the industry-provided API. On the other you scrape Facebook for allit is worth.”(Helmond & Sandvig 2010)Scrapers stand in complex relations to API’s -compared against the industry provided (limited) APIs,scrapers may be viewed as the less polite variant ofdata collection and in some cases may works againstcopyright, terms of service, and “trespass to chattels”.(Marres & Weltevrede 2012)
  • 38. kthxbai! anne@digitalmethods.netwww.digitalmethods.net
  • 39. • http://thinkupapp.com/ sources• http://ifttt.com• http://www.programmableweb.com/faq• http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/digital-strategies/165347/8-apis-your-news-organization-should-start-using- today/• Bell, G (2009). Building Social Web Applications. Sebastopol: O’Reilly Media.• Berry, D. (2011). The Philosophy of Software: Code and Mediation in the Digital Age. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.• Bogost, I. and Montfort, N. (2009). Platform Studies: Frequently Questioned Answers. Proceedings of the Digital Arts and Culture Conference, 2009.• boyd, d. and Crawford, K. (2011) Six Provocations for Big Data. A Decade in Internet Time: Symposium on the Dynamics of the Internet and Society, September 2011. Available at SSRN• Cramer, F and Fuller, M. (2008) Interface. in: Fuller, M. (ed). Software Studies: A Lexicon,Cambridge: MIT Press. .• Helmond, A and Sandvig, C. (2010). ‘On the Evolution of Methods.’ Workshop “Research Methods in the Digitally Networked Information Age” organized by The Berkman Centerfor Internet & Society and the University of St. Gallen in Brunnen, Switzerland from 10 to 12 May 2010.• Langlois, G., McKelvey, F Elmer, G & Werbin, K. (2009). Mapping Commercial Web 2.0 Worlds: Towards a New ., Critical Ontogenesis. Fibreculture 14.• Manovich, L. (2011) ’Trending: The Promises and the Challenges of Big Social Data.’ Debates in the Digital Humanities, edited by Matthew K. Gold. The University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming 2012. PDF available at http://lab.softwarestudies.com/2011/04/new-article-by-lev-manovich-trending.html• O’Reilly (2005). ‘What is Web 2.0.’