Thursday 3 February 2011

Open means bidirectional - please stop abusing the word

A tweet by Dion Hinchcliffe got me going:

Yes, I agree @fabella, API is an older technical term that confuses non-techs. I'm now using "open supply chains" to be more self-evident.

My answer to that?

@dhinchcliffe @fabella, API confuses non-techs. I'm now using "open supply chains" < may I suggest "application interaction agreement"?

The better phrase would have been "application interaction description", as an agreement is something agreed upon by mutual parties. A description is just something that is created uni-laterally.
I'm a big advocate of mutual. Not so much of uni-lateral. And I'm starting to develop a trauma over the continued abuse of the word "open"

Dion's suggested term was unfortunate to the power of three. I can relate to the notion of API having inflated over the past 10 years: it's presented as some wonder glue whereas it's nothing else but a showroom. "We have API's" has come to be replaced by "We have web services" - an equally meaningless sentence meaning nothing more than "If you speak our language, we can talk" - nothing really inviting in that proposal is it?
But open supply chains? Really - that will just confuse the heck out of everyone, tech and business people alike

Supply chains mean something, to an awful lot of industries, companies and people, and have nothing to do with application integration.
Open? Open house means the door is open, and you can walk in and out at will - in both directions. Facebook severely abused the word with their so-called OpenGraph, which is neither open nor a graph, yet people sucked it in like oxygen. Not surprisingly, because what they did was open their door - from their side. A one-way entry into Facebook that has been so desperately trying to get their users to get out of their comfy walled gardens

The combination of both words open and supply chains would have an equal chance of success as Facebook's one - combining two completely irrelevant words into an obvious lie worked for them, so why not for Dion?

Stop the abuse, please - now. I've heard and had too many of it. I was labeled "effusive" with regards to my second tibbr post - I even had to look up the word, and decided that it loosely translates to "someone who can easily take a calculated risk because he knows what he is talking about" - a feature that I find noticeably lacking in the Twitter echo chamber at an increasing and alarming rate

Open means open to all. It isn't a uni-lateral showroom, Dion might as well call the dollar open because it's so well-described - but can you amend it? Change Request it? Version it? 'Course not. How open is Facebook's OpenGraph? Not open at all of course, it's Facebook's proprietary standard that they're pushing out into the world

With regards to API, meaning application programming interface: it would be great if those were described in a functional or business kind of way in stead of directly in XML or JSON, so business people could understand its value

But merely changing the words for exactly the same thing? A complete waste of time - and not adding any value at all

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