API Evangelist: "The Next Decade is Going to Be A Wild Ride"
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I turned 41 in June. As I retool, reboot and readjust during what I guess could be called "vacation", I'm reflecting on the last year and the major shift that has gone on in my world.
First off, turning 40 was hard. Usually birthdays come and go without any concern, but 40 was not easy for me. I'll spare you the details, but the first half of 2012 was a very trying period, and by the time my birthday came around in June I was not a happy camper.
With this in mind, looking back at the last 12 months, I can see it was about transition, and preparing for the period of my life. While the first part of 2012 was an uphill drive, during the second half things seem to fall into place, allowing me to shift gears, pick up speed, setting a significantly new pace for what I see as the next decade of my life.
In 2010, I realized my career trajectory, after achieving a VP level position, working on SAP and Google events was not satisfying for me, and I needed a course correction. I wanted to make sure I was doing something meaningful, but spoke to my experience in architecting distributed, data driven sites and applications.
I had just had a very meaningful experiences in scaling architecture for SAP and Google, powered by application programming interfaces (API) and the cloud. I seen the potential of APIs, in not just designing distributed apps, but make them scalable, portable, collaborative and modular--opening up not just a new way to design web applications, but mobile applications, while also introducing companies to new, more transparent ways of conducting business.
Its been 3 years since I made the decision to do API Evangelist, dedicating my world to studying not just the technical, but the business and politics of providing and consuming APIs. While studying the space, I've worked hard to tell the story of my research, finding a unique voice that was informative, while also establishing enough credibility, so that people would find my research and stories something worth listening to, sharing and re-using.
I strongly believe there is a some amazing changes going on in business, government and our personal lives--changes that are being powered via APIs. We can make meaningful change in our world through opening up data and resources via APIs, but at the same time, the potential for great damage to privacy, markets and other negative influences exist. This intersection of the good and the bad of APIs is where I want to exist. Not being dogmatic about any particular technology or approach, but openly showcasing and discussing how APIs are being used wisely, and where APIs are being used in potentially harmful ways.
After two years of studying and telling stories at this intersection, last summer things started shifting. An awakening had occurred around APIs, with government taking notice, the enterprise and some of the largest global companies suddenly seeing there was something important happening here. APIs weren't just for mashups, they could truly provide the data and resources for the growing demand for web, mobile and even an Internet of things--where common objects around us are connected to the web in real-time.
Now in the summer of 2013, I don't feel like I need to be a cheerleader for APIs anymore, and I am allowed to evolve my approach. I want to maintain my research and monitoring of both providing and consuming APIs, keeping an eye on trends and being a champion of the priorities like government, education and healthcare. To support this, over the last year I've successfully migrated my research and storytelling to a new, agile way of reading, curating, organizing and writing of short and long form stories from the API space--while staying true to the intersection of technology, business and politics.
While not perfect, my website(s) API Evangelist, API Voice, API Stack, Hacker Storytelling and Kin Lane make me happy in their current state. Also while not perfect, I'm happy with the financial side of my world. I don't make a lot of money, but I find enough support to make ends meet, while staying focused on what is important and staying independent of any single company or product.
I have spent the last 3 weeks, enjoying time with my daughter Kaia, and my partner in crime Audrey in one of our favorite places on earth, Hermosa Beach. While I've been reading, writing and doing some coding, I've been soaking in the sun and relaxing, making sure all my projects are wrapped up, allowing my platform to go into a maintenance mode, with no new work being added. I will just maintain the current level of monitoring, curation and publishing I've done to date. Nothing more.
At the time of this writing, I'm getting on a plane to Boston, then driving to Maine and spend a week relaxing with Audrey's family. I'm really looking forward to this time with not just Kaia and Audrey, but also with her family in such a beautiful place, during such a perfect time of year. I couldn't be more content.
Once done in Maine I will come back to LA, pick up a friend of Kaia's from San Diego, and help another friend caravan to Oregon. This will end an amazing summer with Kaia. While in Oregon I will see family, friends as well as the continued business conversations I can't help but have. Then return to Los Angeles the first week in August.
Just days after I return, I will move to Washington D.C., and begin my one year as a Presidential Innovation Fellow, working the Department of Veterans Affairs.
I'm finding it hard to relax, and thoroughly enjoy my time with Kaia this summer, but I will do it. I'm super excited about the opportunity in front of me. My 40th year was pretty stellar, but now my 41st year will be spent in our nations capital, learning how our government works and tackling some of the biggest and in my opinion, some of the most meaningful challenges we face today--supporting our veterans.
In contrast to last summer, this July I'm extremely grateful for the last 12 months, and I'm not just optimistic for the next year, I'm totally psyched for the wild ride that is just getting started. The momentum Audrey and I have successfully achieved over the last three years with API Evangelist and Hack Education, and now we will spend the next year in Washington D.C.
I can tell the stage is being nset for a seriously wild ride for the next decade, and hopefully beyond!