In Product, Tech

Wired thinks there should be an API for everything, and we agree. But what does this mean exactly? Keith Axline lays out how everything in our current world is programmable, in that

“just as you can build apps for your smartphones and new services for the internet, so can you shape and re-shape almost anything in this world, from landscapes and buildings to medicines and surgeries to, well, ideas — as long as you know the code.”

This makes sense from a logical standpoint, in that in order for a person to create any sort of meaningful change, he must first be well-versed in the specific syntax and structure of the problem at hand. For instance, NASA would never have been able to put a man on the moon without an extensive knowledge of physics. If we accept the concept that the universe is programmable, then the next conceptual leap we have to make is that there must be an API for everything in the universe that we wish to program. That is, there must be a readme file that explains which inputs will yield which outputs.

The article goes on to explain how, through open APIs, organizations and individuals can share and build upon the knowledge that they have collectively accumulated. The possibilities are endless for real-world applications of this framework. For example, by creating an API for a category such as teaching methods, teachers could theoretically crowd-source new techniques by building upon one anothers tried and tested approaches. The exciting thing about APIs is that through collaboration, disparate parties can come together to create something that provides more value than either could have created working alone. APIs are proof that the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

So how does this relate to what we are building at Pingup? By building an API for booking services, we are making it possible for a “book now” features to be integrated into any number of applications. The intriguing thing about this, is that there are possible utilizations of our API that we haven’t even conceived of yet. In leaving it up to developers who wish to access our API, we are allowing our product to be used in some potentially innovative and unique ways. In the spirit of encouraging this type of experimentation, we had an intern (Jack) work with us over the summer to see what sort of projects he could develop based on our platform. Jack’s time with us yielded a number of browser plugins to enable online booking directly on business directories, and an app a single business could deploy to its customer base.

In summary, we subscribe to the ethos that knowledge should be publicly available for others to ingest and build upon. We hope that by collaborating with individuals and organizations who have shared their value with us, we will be able to create innovation.

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