March 10, 2012

SXSW - APIs, Startups and the Circus


Mashery's Circus Mashimus has officially rolled into this year's SXSW Interactive! We're excited that we've brought along some spectacular company – each of our lounge sponsors represents how API's are changing the way we do business: This includes teams from, BodyMedia, USA TODAY, Klout, ESPN, ReadWriteWeb, The Guardian and Rovi. API's are everywhere in Austin. With the first day of SXSW's session over, there are some really great highlights from the day worth mentioning. App of the Day: The talk of the town was the SXSW launching of Highlight, a location app that uses API's from several platforms such as Facebook to allow users to interact with local friends or friends of friends that share common interests. Highlight sends you a push notification when you come within a few blocks of another Highlight user and lets you message them when you cross paths. In some sense, the app is like a public poke and a way for your friends to see that you've noted that someone is interesting. The big idea that seems to make this app so popular amongst SXSWi attendees is that it's an app that's moving quickly toward a larger strategic goal: becoming the new way users can discover friends and new people around you, all on top of the premise of the real world connections you actually already have. You can download and check out the app, currently only available for iOS, here: Session of the Day: At today's SXSW fireside chat between Guy Kawasaki and head of Google+ Vic Gundotra, Gundotra explicitly noted that he was "100% to blame" for the social networking platform's lack of an open API months after its launch. Gundotra explained that if Google were to allow third-party developers and apps to post content on users' behalf, "your stream could easily be overwhelmed." He couldn't promise a third-party posting API would be made available by the end of this year, but did emphasize that "I just don't want to do it because I've seen other [platforms] open APIs, develop an ecosystem of third-party clients and then shut down the API. I'm going to release that API when I'm confident we're not going to screw over developers." The audience clearly voiced their disagreement with Gundotra's statement, especially when Kawasaki fired back that developers are accustomed to constantly-changing APIs from other social media platforms like Facebook, but Gundotra replied back that, "We hold ourselves to a higher standard." Gundotra conceded that huge pain points are present with the Google+ platform. First, Google's varied past in social media meant they were late to the API game. Google's first social foray, Orkut, existed in a world where API's were merely developer-speak. Without the innovation that open APIs provide, third-party developers using Facebook's API could leverage it for identity, demographics or any other useful information about a users and their friends. What Gundotra explained was that Google+ is unable to successfully implement a refined algorithm for developing a comprehensive set of data quickly enough on who and what its users' interests are, or how to accurately promote and hide certain noisy friends, ads and apps. Ultimately, this hinders Facebook and other social media platform users from having accessibility to cross-publish posts to Google+ the way social media apps like Path allow syndication to social media platforms like Facebook, then perhaps Google+ wouldn't feel so much like the "ghost town" most users associate the platform to be. Is this a sign that the Google+ API team is a bit overwhelmed? Read more about Guy Kawasaki's thoughts on Google+ here: Schwag Items of the Day: Nobody was happier to grab anything free on Thursday than ponchos. Here at Mashery's Circus Mashimus, we handed out hundreds of free rain ponchos to help developers and attendees stay dry this week at SXSW! Grab yours from a Mashery representative or drop by our lounge this week anytime this week between 9:30am to 6pm. Follow us @Mashery to find out when and where. Feel free to drop by for our morning Bloody Mary's, pick up a free mash up t-shirt, play a game of skeeball and Xbox gaming system or drop by our happy hour for some cocktails and beers! The ringleaders at Circus Mashimus ( hope you will join us in the week's festivities of celebrating successful API launches and partnerships and learning about how some of Mashery's partners are leading in their respective industries.