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Interfaces for the Cloud: Curating the Data
Digital Methods Winter School Workshop 2012
Anne Helmond, Bernhard Rieder, Richard Rogers
An application programming interface (API) is a source
code based specification intended to be used as an
interface by software components to communicate with
each other. An API may include specifications for
routines, data structures,object classes, and variables.
(Wikipedia)
API introduction
by Anne Helmond
Application Programming Interface
“this refers to a set of tools that developers can use to
access 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
API
When used in the context of web development, an API
is typically a defined set of Hypertext Transfer Protocol
(HTTP) request messages, along with a definition of the
structure of response messages, which is usually in an
Extensible Markup Language (XML) or JavaScript Object
Notation (JSON) format. While "Web API" is virtually a
synonym for web service, the recent trend (so-called
Web 2.0) has been moving away from Simple Object
Access Protocol (SOAP) based services towards more
direct Representational State Transfer (REST) style
communications.[5] Web APIs allow the combination of
multiple services into new applications known as
mashups.[6] - (Wikipedia)
Web API / web service
The web as platform
Historically, some types of software like desktop
operating systems have been called 'platforms' because
through their APIs they provide the foundation on which
other programs are built. The phrase 'web as platform'
refers to fact that as web sites start providing their own
APIs, they too are becoming a platform on which other
programs can be built. (Programmableweb)
Programmable web
Definitionally, a “platform” is a system that can be
reprogrammed and therefore customized by outside
developers—users—and in that way, adapted to
countless needs and niches that the platform’s original
developers could not have possibly contemplated, much
less had time to accommodate.
[T]he key term in the definition of platform is
‘programmed’. If you can program it, then it’s a
platform. If you can’t, then it’s not. - Marc Andreessen
APIs and Web 2.0
A Platform Beats an Application Every Time - O’Reilly 2005
Flickr: blog this photo
realtime photo search
twitter firehose
APIs enable mashups
IFTT: combining cloud services
IFTT: combining cloud services
IFTT: combining cloud services
IFTT: combining cloud services
IFTT: combining cloud services
IFTT: combining cloud services
IFTT: combining cloud services
IFTT: combining cloud services
an interface for programming the application
programming interface
API calls
API literature
API literature
In relation to user interface/programming interface: Cramer and Fuller 2008
In relation to the reliance of Web 2.0 on APIs: Langlois, McKelvey, Elmer and
Werbin 2009
In relation to the volatility of methods: Helmond and Sandvig 2010
In relation to proprietary API calls: Berry 2011
In relation to Big Data: boyd and Crawford 2011
In relation to data gathering skills: Manovich 2011
In relation to scraping: Marres and Weltevrede 2012
#1 limited API calls
There are limits to how many calls and changes you can
make in a day
API usage is rate limited with additional fair use limits
to protect Twitter from abuse.
https://dev.twitter.com/docs/things-every-developer-should-know
#1 limited API calls
#2 changing APIs
#2 changing APIs
#2 changing APIs
#2 changing APIs
#2 changing APIs
“This document and the APIs herein are subject to
change at any time. We will version the API, but may
deprecate early versions aggressively.” - Love, Delicious.
http://delicious.com/help/api
#3 APIs and control
#4 APIs and access
“Register for a free API key and get 133% more
queries/day.” Topsy
#4 APIs and access
Twitter Inc. makes a fraction of its material available to
the public through its APIs. The ‘firehose’ theoretically
contains all public tweets ever posted and explicitly
excludes any tweet that a user chose to make private or
‘protected.’ Yet, some publicly accessible tweets are
also missing from the firehose. Although a handful of
companies and startups have access to the firehose,
very few researchers have this level of access. (boyd
and Crawford 2011)
There are different data gathering methods: The API is
the polite way of gathering data and scraping could be
considered the impolite way of harnessing data: “You
can arrange digital research methods on a spectrum of
niceness. On the one hand you use the industry-
provided API. On the other you scrape Facebook for all
it 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 of
data collection and in some cases may works against
copyright, terms of service, and “trespass to chattels”.
(Marres & Weltevrede 2012)
# 5 ethics: APIs “versus” scraping
how to study/critique APIs?
by Bernhard Rieder
history of APIs
the “past” and the “turn”
lines of variation and change
project proposals
validity check interface
location interface (cloud geography)
API trangulations interface
by Richard Rogers
kthxbai!
anne@digitalmethods.net
www.digitalmethods.net

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Digital Methods Winterschool 2012: API - Interfaces to the Cloud

  • 1. Interfaces for the Cloud: Curating the Data Digital Methods Winter School Workshop 2012 Anne Helmond, Bernhard Rieder, Richard Rogers
  • 2. An application programming interface (API) is a source code based specification intended to be used as an interface by software components to communicate with each other. An API may include specifications for routines, data structures,object classes, and variables. (Wikipedia) API introduction by Anne Helmond
  • 3. Application Programming Interface “this refers to a set of tools that developers can use to access 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 API
  • 4. When used in the context of web development, an API is typically a defined set of Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) request messages, along with a definition of the structure of response messages, which is usually in an Extensible Markup Language (XML) or JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) format. While "Web API" is virtually a synonym for web service, the recent trend (so-called Web 2.0) has been moving away from Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) based services towards more direct Representational State Transfer (REST) style communications.[5] Web APIs allow the combination of multiple services into new applications known as mashups.[6] - (Wikipedia) Web API / web service
  • 5. The web as platform Historically, some types of software like desktop operating systems have been called 'platforms' because through their APIs they provide the foundation on which other programs are built. The phrase 'web as platform' refers to fact that as web sites start providing their own APIs, they too are becoming a platform on which other programs can be built. (Programmableweb)
  • 6. Programmable web Definitionally, a “platform” is a system that can be reprogrammed and therefore customized by outside developers—users—and in that way, adapted to countless needs and niches that the platform’s original developers could not have possibly contemplated, much less had time to accommodate. [T]he key term in the definition of platform is ‘programmed’. If you can program it, then it’s a platform. If you can’t, then it’s not. - Marc Andreessen
  • 7. APIs and Web 2.0 A Platform Beats an Application Every Time - O’Reilly 2005
  • 18. IFTT: combining cloud services an interface for programming the application programming interface
  • 21. API literature In relation to user interface/programming interface: Cramer and Fuller 2008 In relation to the reliance of Web 2.0 on APIs: Langlois, McKelvey, Elmer and Werbin 2009 In relation to the volatility of methods: Helmond and Sandvig 2010 In relation to proprietary API calls: Berry 2011 In relation to Big Data: boyd and Crawford 2011 In relation to data gathering skills: Manovich 2011 In relation to scraping: Marres and Weltevrede 2012
  • 22. #1 limited API calls There are limits to how many calls and changes you can make in a day API usage is rate limited with additional fair use limits to protect Twitter from abuse. https://dev.twitter.com/docs/things-every-developer-should-know
  • 23. #1 limited API calls
  • 28. #2 changing APIs “This document and the APIs herein are subject to change at any time. We will version the API, but may deprecate early versions aggressively.” - Love, Delicious. http://delicious.com/help/api
  • 29. #3 APIs and control
  • 30. #4 APIs and access “Register for a free API key and get 133% more queries/day.” Topsy
  • 31. #4 APIs and access Twitter Inc. makes a fraction of its material available to the public through its APIs. The ‘firehose’ theoretically contains all public tweets ever posted and explicitly excludes any tweet that a user chose to make private or ‘protected.’ Yet, some publicly accessible tweets are also missing from the firehose. Although a handful of companies and startups have access to the firehose, very few researchers have this level of access. (boyd and Crawford 2011)
  • 32. There are different data gathering methods: The API is the polite way of gathering data and scraping could be considered the impolite way of harnessing data: “You can arrange digital research methods on a spectrum of niceness. On the one hand you use the industry- provided API. On the other you scrape Facebook for all it 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 of data collection and in some cases may works against copyright, terms of service, and “trespass to chattels”. (Marres & Weltevrede 2012) # 5 ethics: APIs “versus” scraping
  • 33. how to study/critique APIs? by Bernhard Rieder history of APIs the “past” and the “turn” lines of variation and change
  • 34. project proposals validity check interface location interface (cloud geography) API trangulations interface by Richard Rogers