Open APIs and Open Standards

As Dave Winer has been pointing out in recent weeks, there is something quite interesting happening in the blogging/microblogging world.

First WordPress allowed posting and reading wordpress blogs via the Twitter API.

Then yesterday our portfolio company Tumblr did the same.

John Borthwick has been advising companies for a while now to build APIs that mimic the Twitter API. His reasoning is that if your API look and feels similar to the Twitter API then third party developers will have an easier time adopting it and building to it. Makes sense to me.

But what WordPress and Tumblr have done is a step farther than mimicing the API. They have effectively usurped it for their own blogging platforms. In the case of Tumblr, they are even replicating key pieces of their functionality in it, as Marco describes:

The really cool thing – because our following models follow a lot of
the same principles, we’ve been able to take advantage of a ton of
native features:

  • Retweeting = Reblogging
  • Replying = Reblogging w/ commentary
  • Favoriting = Liking
  • “@david” = ”http://david.tumblr.com/”
  • Conversations = Reblogs

And as Dave Winer points out, this effectively creates a standard that third party clients can adopt. And Dave ends his post with this highly provocative thought:

If Facebook were to implement the Twitter API that would be it. We'd have another FTP or HTTP or RSS.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around all of this and the implications of it. And I'm not writing here in my capacity as an investor in Twitter and Tumblr or a board member of Twitter. I just think its fascinating and worthy of discussion in this community. So let's get on with it.

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