I started API Evangelist on the premise that the API community while immersed in a debate about the merits of REST and Hypermedia, were ignoring some very important aspects around the business of APIs. Six years later, these business considerations still plague the space, but I’d add a lack of awareness of the industry, organizational, and other political considerations are some of the biggest challenges we face, in addition to existing business concerns.
I am always telling linked data, RESTafarians, and hypermedia practitioners that they need to build more bridges for folks, to get us from the messed up world we have, to the perfectly defined world they envision — this is what OpenAPI Spec is, in my opinion. You have a wealth of people who would benefit from the solution your vision could bring, but they don’t see the world as we do, and have other business and political influences in their local world that prevent them from actually going from A (current solution) to B (the new solution).
We may have the solution ready to go, but how do we get them on the road, moving toward our new vision? It’s easier said than done. As believers, we see the destination, and we clearly see the road that gets us there–we’ve spent every night for years walking back and forth. The problem comes when we try to get the normal folks to set out on this road, and leave the comfort of their existing world. What we are promising is better! it will make your life easier. It will save you time, money, and be more efficient. C’mon!
We are asking the risk-adverse, non-technical person to come out in the cold, walk this new road. We conveniently forget about all the money they have spent on technology to this point. There is little awareness of how much time and energy have been put into what is already known, and even less willingness to truly invest in what is needed to actually to ensure everyone involved will actually get to the designated location. Just c’mon! I know better than the people you surround yourself with. The people who have gotten you where you are at, for better or for worse.
I feel like I spend too much time believing in tech. Tech is just tech. Nobody ever sees it the same. We believe in tech because of our own hard work, people introducing, influencing, mentoring, leading, or not leading, with it. The politics of all these relationships, previous tech investments, and the exposure to technology working, or now working for us, has all gotten us to where we are at. Who are we to think folks will be able to unwind all of that, with a single tech solution that we’ve crafted? This is why an awareness of existing business and political realities someone faces, and the need to build bridges is so critical.
When I say bridges, I’m not saying a big steel bridge across the Mississippi, I’m talking little footbridge across a creek, or a steel sheet across the road construction hold on the road. Maybe you’ll have to erect some street lights, and install some signage along the way, before people will feel comfortable enough to make the trek, let alone make the commute on a regular basis. This is my regular reminder that tech is often no match for the politics that are already in play and I will need to be more patient, slow down significantly, and find small bite-size projects that will slowly unravel much of the politics that consume the folks I’m targeting.