Is This Something We Should be Paying More Attention To?

Geek Index: about 8

It’s one of my favorite blogs, John Musser’s ProgrammableWeb.  But his site is much more than that.  It is a directory of mashups (3,331) and APIs (907), the DNA that makes them work.

API stands for Application Programming Interface, and it is a function or procedure that can be used to extract or otherwise work the content of a web site.  For instance, Technorati, the blog search engine, has a number of APIs for tying into their search engine.  Their Tag Query API provides a URL that reads:

http://api.technorati.com/tag?key=[apikey]&tag=[tag]&format=rss

Many APIs require a key, which is a string of characters that represent and label your web site to serving site.  You can register for and receive your own Technorati API key here.

So your key would replace the [apikey].  Then you might type the blog tag you are looking for, say, “learn2cn,” the tag for the Learning 2.008 conference.  In your own web page, the Technorati API address below would result in an RSS feed

http://api.technorati.com/tag?key=[myapikey]&tag=learn2cn&format=rss

Plugged into Alan Levine’s very useful Feed2JS tool, you get a java script that can be plugged into many different kinds of web environments, such as a Moodle block, producing something like this:

…a list of the latest 10 blog posts tagged for the Learning 2.008 Conference in Shanghai this month.

This is not rocket science. But it’s also not using a word processor. But, I think that we are increasingly realizing that literacy today is much more than just reading, writing, and basic math — that its the ability to work information to accomplish goals. If this is true, then thinking about things like APIs might be something that we, some of us, should be doing, and introducing to students, some of them.

What do you think?

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.