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Fluidinfo CEO Terry Jones on API's & Why Publishers Should Offer Them

Publishers and authors obviously have a sense of how they intend their content to be used but what if there are other ways of accessing and consuming content that publisher and author didn't even consider? It reminds me of that great Henry Ford quote: "If I'd asked people what they wanted, they would have said 'a faster horse'." The point is sometimes we just don't know what we want. That's where exposing content via API's can help. As we talk about in this interview with Fluidinfo CEO Terry Jones, APIs enable developers to work with your content like a box of Legos, building solutions you may never have dreamed of. Key points include:

  • What's an API?  -- Just as user interfaces enable access to information by users, API's enable access to information by programmers.  [Discussed at :54]
  • The "read-only" model is not the future -- Publishers have grown accustomed to a one-way communication. We produce content but generally don't let users enhance or modify that content. That may have worked well in the print world but the digital world demands more. As Terry notes, the real world is "writeable." [Discussed at 5:15]
  • Publishers are just starting to recognize audience signals-- There's value in not only detecting these signals but acting on them. [Discussed at 10:55]
  • Reading has always been a social activity -- Much takes place in isolation but think about why page numbers exist, for example. [Discussed at 12:10]
  • How do you manage control in an open API access model?-- It's not as scary as you might think. There are plenty of control mechanisms that can and should exist when exposing your content via API's. [Discussed at 13:45]
  • Mobile changes everything -- Simple paywall access via a browser isn't the best solution. Mobile offers a completely new opportunity to distribute and monetize content...but it has to be done correctly, of course. [Discussed at 18:50] 
  • Why not just offer access via HTML5? -- HTML5 is a delivery good delivery mechanism but API's are more like offering a toolbox for building even more powerful solutions. [Discussed at 28:16]


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