Life, Zen, and the API

Short Form


The concept of the API, we all know it, we all use it, but do we really understand it? This talk seeks to deconstruct the API and discuss it's usefulness for everything from your web app, to your coffee, to your marriage


Application Programmers Interface (API). A term that we see more and more, daily. It drives everything these days. We all use them but few of us really appreciate the awesome power of this fully armed and operational concept. The API is so much more than “a list of the methods I can call on this library.”

This talk aims to introduce The API as a concept in a way that is much deeper than simply “a list of methods.” The API is much more than a way to connect to things. It is not simply a “way to get response from a service” and not simply limited to services or libraries at all. It is everywhere in our code, if we are willing to see it.

The API is also embedded in every aspect of our lives– and well it should be. It touches on topics as diverse as marriage, coffee, Buddhism, and pizza and defines a way that we separate everything in our lives into “concerns” and, more importantly, into “un-concerns.”

I describe how we (programmers) have been ignoring the fundamental wisdom of the API as a concept even as we strive to create more of them. The talk will discuss development of “an API” not as “A thing to make so that coders can hook up to your software” but as “A great way to think about HOW to write software, how to organize your code, and even your life.”

I’ll have many bad, and some comical, examples of bad API usage in both “meatspace” and Cyberspace, examples of good API usage, and– most importantly– lots of examples of different ways the API affects everything around us. At the end, my true hope is that we can all come away with a better appreciation of a very subtle aspect of programming, and life.

Speaking experience

Lots of experience at various conferences in both the technology community and the scientific community. I try to always put on a talk that's both informative, and really fun(ny). Example: I have not given this talk before.