Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Open APIs are not enough

Rufus Pollock, Open APIs Don’t Equal Open Knowledge, Open Knowledge Foundation Weblog, September 4, 2006.  Excerpt:

Kragen Sitaker recently posted an essay about the equivalent of free software for online services....He points out that the movement to use online services rather than local applications greatly increases the possibility for vendor lock-in....As Ross Anderson has repeatedly emphasised the value that a vendor can extract from users is roughly equivalent to the total switching cost. With control of your data that switching cost is going to be much, much higher than with control of the user interface alone.

This focus on data brings me to a related and, in my view, even more important point. Associated with the move to online services there’s been a proliferation of web 2.0yy ‘open’ APIs. While an open API is certainly better than a closed one I think we need to understand clearly the way in which the ‘open’ in ‘open’ API is different to other forms of ‘openness’...[Cutting five specific points; worth reading.]

Open knowledge consists of three freedoms: the freedom to access, to reuse, and to redistribute. As we’ve just seen an open API however guarantees none of these...