Some Reasons Why You Should Not Do APIs

To help folks understand that I am not just pro APIs, I wanted to come up with some solid arguments about maybe why some companies, institutions, and government agencies should not do APIs. In 2016, it is hard to come with reasons why organizations should not be sharing machine-readable data, content, and algorithms on the web with other applications, but I was able to brainstorm a handful.

Unable To Secure Things
If you are unable to properly secure your servers and the other components of your web architecture, you probably shouldn’t be making valuable data and content available via APIs. However, if you aren’t able to secure machine readable content and data online, you probably shouldn’t be making anything available online, and maybe just stick with purely brick and mortar business.

Do Not Respect Privacy
Like security, if you do not work to understand and work to protect the privacy of your users, and the people and businesses you are doing business with, you probably shouldn’t do APIs. Chances are your privacy practices will just trickle down to your 3rd party developers, and this has shown to be pretty damaging to end-users privacy on endless platforms in the past.

You Are Doing Shady Things
As a business or individual, if you are doing shading things with your products, services, and misusing the data, and content of your partners and customers — I highly recommend staying away from APIs. Using web technology to make things accessible and available in other systems is just a bad idea. You are safer to keep as much of your operations internally, out of view of journalists or anyone with any ethical core.

No Defensible Product or Service
If your product and service is just a rip-off of someone else’s work, or just about locking up facts, and other public data that can be found online. APIs are just going to put a big hole in you’re already sinking ship. If your product or service is not defensible without heavy, heavy policing, you are probably better off just keeping under lock and key.

Your Algorithm Is Vapor Ware
Many algorithms out there are just hype, and there is nothing really behind them. They are often a Mechanical Turk, meaning some human accomplishing all or part of the equation, or just completely smoke and mirrors (aka vaporware). If the algorithms you are exposing via API fall into this category you are probably better off keeping behind some proprietary SDKs, appliances, or other ways you can keep away from curious folk.

You Or Your Team Is Incompetent
APIs just augment and amplify what is already happening. If behind your API facade is just incompetence, then that is what you will be amplify, and syndicating into other applications using APIs. If you struggle with incompetence internally I recommend sticking to wha tyou are already doing, and do not embark on any API journey — it will just be too dangerous.

These are just a handful of reasons you probably don’t want to be making data, content, and algorithms available using web technology for use in other applications. Some businesses and organizational operations should be left as a manual process, locked up in walled gardens, behind thick curtains, or in black boxes. APIs will just make your bad situation worse, by making what you are doing more accessible to partners, customers, and potentially the public.

Not every company should do APIs. Not all data and content should be able via APIs. Not all companies, institutions, organizations, and agencies can afford the transparency and access that APIs will bring to the table.

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