I’m at the API Strategy and Practice Conference here in Chicago, where Kin Lane and Kirsten Hunter have kicked things off with an “Introduction to APIs” workshop. Despite its title, the talk had value for API developers beyond the absolute beginner level. Although the two did an excellent job of explaining what an API is for someone who doesn’t know, the most valuable elements of the talk for someone who has made and used APIs, but wants to get better at it, were the cornucopia of resources that Kin recommended in his portion of the talk and Kirsten’s ______ in her portion of the talk.
We applaud the arrival of “world-changing” data-manipulation technologies. But where do we see those technologies applied? In sales, maybe . . . but rarely in the changing of worlds.
Companies have APIs all over the place to access data at the snap of a finger. Meanwhile, researchers hoping to access public data—especially in the social sciences—are much more likely to find themselves downloading a slightly out-of-date Excel spreadsheet from a website that, on a nonzero number of occasions, has for some reason been unavailable when they visited it.
A lot of public datasets deserve APIs. The Armed Conflict Location and Event Database is one of them. So I made an API and a webclient. Here’s how I did it and what they’re for: