What does it mean to build an API?

Dave Winer recently wrote a post asking the question, “Should every app be a platform?” My one word answer when bookmarking Dave’s post in my delicious account was a resounding “Yes!”

Not everyone sees the benefit of building your application as a platform. People often fear the loss of control, the idea that they may lose potential revenue or the fear of being fettered to support APIs that prevent you from making unforeseen changes.

Even if you can get agreement on the benefits of opening a platform, the definition of what it means to be a platform varies greatly. That’s why I highly encourage you to read The three kinds of platforms you meet on the Internet by Marc Andreessen.

Marc’s post is lengthy, but well worth the time. It gives you language to use when describing the different types of platform and an honest assessment of the challenges in building each type.

As more people move from trying to build holistic web sites hosted on a single server and move towards a vision of a web presence that combines information stored in multiple places on multiple servers, the focus on platforms will grow. We need to communicate clearly about that types of platforms we are both delivering and looking for others to deliver to us or we will likely be disappointed in the platforms we choose and disappoint those who choose to build on the platforms we develop.

OEN Award Winners

Silicon Florist announced Jive Software’s award at the OEN Awards based on my tweet earlier tonight. So in the interest of getting it right, here is my wine-colored recollection of the winners:

As always, the Awards Ceremony was fun, the food good, and the videos of all the finalists were inspiring. Congratulations to all of the finalists and winners.

(And I hope I remembered the winners correctly. Did I mention that the wine was good?)

Speed Matters: Presentation Files and Resources

Speed Matters: Presentation and Resources

We had an exceptional audience tonight at DevGroup NW for my presentation on how to speed up web pages. There were a lot of good questions and an engaged audience. Thank you to everyone who showed up. Here is my presentation from tonight as well as some of the resources I mentioned.

The great irony is that I used so many images in my presentation that I can’t compress the pdf files to the degree that I would like. Sorry for the large file size. If it is any consolation, you’ll likely get to fully use your broadband connection unlike when you download web pages and are limited by current connections to a fraction of your connection speed. :-)

Books on Site Performance

Articles & Resources

Measuring Site Speed

Minimizers and Compressors

Statistics & Studies

Thanks to all of the Flickr users who posted their images with Creative Commons licenses. This presentation wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting without their photographs.

Analysis of iPhone Price Drop PR

Brian Solis has again posted an insightful examination of crisis communication. This time he has taken a look at the iPhone price drop, the customer outrage, and Steve Jobs’ brilliant open letter response. This is particularly timely because Apple today announced the details of the $100 store credit for early purchasers of the iPhone.

Brian’s article doesn’t cover the one question that I’ve wondered about since Steve’s open letter—would Apple have been better off having the store credit ready when announcing the iPhone price drop or not?

Most of the coverage has pointed out that Apple dropped the ball when the iPhone price cut was announced by not having a plan in place for early adopters. Yet after the uproar and subsequent Apple response, Apple is seen as a company that listens and responds to its consumers. And as Brian points out, the letter “turned a negative into a business and vision discussion about how the iPhone is going to capture significant market share.”

So my question to you (and particularly to Brian) is would Apple have been better off addressing this ahead of time or has their brand and corporate image improved more by responding successfully to the upset customers? If you were at Apple and you could turn back the clock and do it over, would you?

Applying a Social Computing Strategy to the entire Product Lifecycle

Jeremiah Owyang has published an exceptionally detailed article tracking the different ways to engage in social media during a product’s lifecycle.

The article has a raft of good ideas in it including this insightful quote:

1. Listening: The most important step
This is one of the biggest problems for communicators today, just like a real conversation, is learning to listen. Any savvy party goer knows to listen before jumping into a conversation at a cocktail party. Marketers, MarCom, Integrated Marketing, Advertising, PR, have forgotten (or never knew) that by listening to the needs of the market will help them to create more effective messages and then evolve into a conversation.

Listening is the most underdeveloped skill in business today. Whether it is listening to our customers or listening to our coworkers, finding people who can listen well is difficult.

Listening to a market is a different skill set (rss, bulletin boards) than listening in a meeting, but both rely on true listening—active listening.

Active listening requires you to not only have heard what is was said, but to listen intently enough that the people speaking know that you have heard and understood them. Only after someone knows that they’ve been heard will they be able to engage in a conversation.

In social media, it isn’t sufficient to simply monitor the conversations. You need to understand and internalize the values, concerns and fears of the people involved.

The first time that a marketer speaks in a social network, it will be readily apparent those involved in the network whether or not the marketer truly gets what they are about or not. Marketers need to take the time to listen and to make sure that when they engage in the conversation that their audience knows that they have been heard.

I was pleased that Jeremiah listed listening as the most very first thing on his list. The rest of the list is just as insightful so read the full article.

Congrats to Silicon Florist

Rick Turoczy marks one month of covering the Portland technology community on his blog Silicon Florist. I’ve come to rely on his blog and tend to look at his posts as soon as he notes them on his twitter account.

Because of Silicon Florist, I’ve attended interesting local events like last night’s meeting on Implementing Rails concepts with PHP. Without the Silicon Florist, I never would have known the event was occurring.

After one short month, I can’t imagine not having Silicon Florist in my rss feeds. If you’re in Portland or interested in Portland’s technology scene, you should check it out.

Signed Up for OpenID Today

Despite all of my reservations about OpenID, I finally found a compelling use for the technology today.

I signed up for Highrise by 37Signals today. I’m going to use it for personal contact management which I have a deeper interest in after reading Never Eat Alone.

The challenge is that I already have an account for Basecamp (another 37Signals product) and wasn’t looking forward to managing multiple accounts. OpenID to the rescue.

37Signals allows you to link multiple accounts—personal and business—to the same OpenID login. After a quick registration at MyOpenID.com, I was ready to sign up for Highrise and link my current Basecamp account. It was painless and has been a real boon.

The major benefit is the way that 37Signals has implemented their OpenID support. The OpenBar interface makes it worth the time to sign up with an OpenID provider. This is another example of where 37Signals should be an example for other developers.

At the end of the day, selecting the OpenID vendor turned out to be very simple. MyOpenID.com is a product of JanRain a Portland-based company whose founders were involved in the development of OpenID.

Local? Developed the technology? It was a no brainer.

Talking to Anvil Media’s Kent Lewis

I managed to have a lengthy conversation last evening with Kent Lewis of Anvil Media at PDX MindShare. Kent and I had met a few times before, but had never had an extended conversation until now.

I left the conversation inspired, energetic and feeling like Kent and I were kindred spirits with our views on business and the world.

Kent has tremendous integrity. He believes in a world of abundance and that being giving back to your community, you get your contribution back tenfold.

I couldn’t have been more impressed and am grateful that I got to know him better.