API and they know it: Guardian distributes *everything* online

Image: Help yourself (to the Guardian's data
Image: Help yourself (to the Guardian's data)

* Updated *

I’ve also written about Best Buy setting its catalogue content free at the iCrossing Connect blog…

Jeff Jarvis has an excellent post headed APIs: The New Distribution about The Guardian’s decision to distribute everything online.

If you’re even slightly non-technical you may not know what an API is. Basically it’s a way of letting anyone who wants to take Guardian content (headlines, copy, images, video) as it is published and do something different with it.

It makes its content more portable, more shareable, more distributable.

It means The Guardian has taken the limits off of its own content, the limits of what it can think to do with it, and of what can happen on its own site. Feeds from its content will be fed into the most groundbreaking, gamechanging ideas of the next few years (and some duff ones too).

One of Jeff Jarvis’s colleagues describes the move as putting its content “into the fabric of the internet.”

This is a bold move, but one that shows the web literacy of the Guardian Media Group: it understands thefundamentals of being a brand in networks, that it is best served by being in the networks, making itself as useful as possible. It’s just taken the logical next… leap.

This comes at the same time as the BBC is freeing up its news videos to be embedded in other websites.

All well and good – neither organisation is beholden to a quarterly P&L. The Guardian’s a trust and the BBC is a publicly funded (and generously so) corporation. Makes you think that maybe companies that aren’t for profit are the ones who stand the best chance of surviving the gear crunch of adapting to the web. Maybe traditional commercial models aren’t going to be as good at  surviving when it comes to media?

Apart from trusts and public money, the other players in the media mix are the brands. They used to fund the media through advertising mostly, but now will be direct players. How many of them would win in the attention markets by releasing data through APIs like this? Insurance companies have giga-wotsits of useful information. So do publishers, so do pharma companies, so do most people.

If you could, what data from your organisation would put out through an API tomorrow?

  • http://brendancooper.com Brendan Cooper

    Fascinating! For some weird reason I’ve been all APId up over the past week, delving into the Twitter, Technorati and Yahoo APIs, so I find this development very interesting indeed.

    It’s hard to think of what my company could/would share, but I do wonder whether APIs might become more prevalent. So, in future, not only do you need RSS for content delivery in your social media set, you need widgets for content ubiquity and APIs for flexibility.

  • Pingback: links for 2009-03-12 « Brendan Cooper, your friendly neighbourhood social media strategist