One of the most important websites for the future of big data & AI is up for sale this week

The future of the world will be impacted in major ways by big data and artificial intelligence.  That much is undeniable, right?

But how is data accessed and how does AI make connections and recommendations between technologies, data sets, and users?  Through something called an API, or Application Programming Interface.

APIs are already big but they’re sure to get a whole lot bigger. The founding team behind Siri, for example, is making headlines with a new AI assistant called Viv that’s all about weaving together different technologies from different products and services, through their APIs of course.  Uber’s API is huge news.  Amazon Alexa’s voice API is big.  IBM’s Watson is all about building out an ecosystem of empowered applications through its API.  Not just web technologies but buildings, infrastructures, all kinds of things are going to have interfaces to program applications on top of them.

APIs are the technical pathway through which the symphony of combinatorial innovation is being built.

Here’s the fascinating news of the day: the most influential man in the world of APIs, Kin Lane, has just put his website up for sale.  Kin built API Evangelist up to become one of the most important technical blogs in the world, with his bare hands and support from sponsors, and now he’s walking away from it to dedicate the next months of his life to support a member of his family.  It’s a beautiful, inspiring story of a man sacrificing something great he’s built for the love of family, for principals, for empathy, for healing.  It’s incredible.

In the meantime, APIs are poised to be the glue of the big data, artificial intelligence enriched world, and API Evangelist already has that community’s ear with its blog posts, best practice guides, and great social presence.

We all have until Friday to enter bids to buy it.  Bidding starts at $10,000. I hope someone pays a lot of money for it and does great things with it.

Below: From a Little Bird report on the most influential people and organizations in the world of APIs. These are the API experts that other API experts follow most.

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Ethics in Autonomous Corporations, Investments in Human Community, and the Strategic Value of Social Media: Three Good Twitter Conversations This Week

Last weekend I started what I’d like to make a regular series of blog posts rounding up some of the most interesting conversations I was fortunate enough to have over the previous week on Twitter. Here’s last week’s about blockchain, news algorithms, and people discovery.

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Above: thinker @LAPrice, CMX community summit founder David Spinks, and marketer Dave Ewart. Three men, but I also got to interact a little with Margaret Cho this week, which was awesome!

This week’s highlighted conversations, which I welcome you to join me in or just check out from your own vantage point, include the following.  If I mischaracterized what anyone was saying, please do let me know. 😉

I’m @MarshallK on Twitter and would love to chat with you, too.

Ethics and the Autonomous Organization

An incredible but under-reported thing happened this month when an organization called The DAO raised $120 million in two weeks (now almost $150m), all from people buying into what’s called a Decentralized Autonomous Organization.  As Wikipedia says, “A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), also known as decentralized autonomous corporation (DAC), is an organization that is run through a set of business rules that operate within computer code (smart contracts).”

The DAO platform will allow shareholders to vote on proposals for financial and technical resources to be deployed in some really interesting ways.  I’ve heard of decentralized autonomous organizations more and more lately and the easiest example of one to wrap your head around may be an autonomous taxi that drives passengers around, but isn’t owned by anyone in particular, it just caries out a set of rules its been programmed to follow, and makes money, which then goes to the shareholders who funded its creation.

Stan Higgins writes a good overview of some pros and cons of The DAO on Coindesk this week.  My Twitter buddy LA Price puts it differently, though.  “The skynet kickstarter just made it’s first milestone?” he quips, “I wouldn’t be at all certain that the DAO is an unalloyed good thing.”  Thank you for saying that!

I ran a Little Bird analysis to see who in the world of Blockchain (the broad medium in which the DAO will operate) appears most interested in Ethics, and found author Don Tapscott, @BigPrivacy, EtherumLabs, philosopher Melanie Swan, and Michael Parsons at the top of the list.  Good to know.

One Cool Community Building Hack

I posted this poll this week and thought the results were real interesting.

David Spinks replied, which led me to visit his profile which led be to his pinned Tweet – which I absolutely LOVE.

When The Chips Are Down, Social Media!

I was marveling at how few people had wrapped their heads around the great ideas articulated by Chris Boudreaux and Constantin Basturea of EY in this post where they explain just one of countless examples of ways that listening to the social web offers tons and tons of value to people throughout any organization. Why are we just now figuring that out?!? One of my co-workers told me they thought it was because social media is still being staffed as an entry level position. So I asked in a couple of Twitter polls.


My favorite response to all of this? Dave Ewart’s words: “In other words: ‘Would you give the most visible role in the company to most junior hire?'”

Well said, Dave! When you put it like that, the missed opportunities here seem all the more egregious.

See also: Influential Women in Smart Cities

I had a great time researching this blog post this week and people seemed to really dig it.  It’s much more interesting stuff than I thought when I got started.  Sustainability, money, gender – high stakes.  Check it out.


Facebook Editors, Surveillance Privilege, and People Finding People: My Top 3 Twitter Conversations This Week

This morning I was looking around the great subscription tech blog The Information and noticed they have a “comments of the week” blog post, where they highlight the best comments posted over the week by their readers.  I love that!  It’s a great way to really dig into the value that great community conversation offers – and a great way to encourage more.  It’s like the Letters to the Editor section in print media.

All of our networks are rich with opportunity but almost all of us fail to tap into them enough.  I need to be talking to my professional advisors more than I do – but I also want to dig into the inbound conversations I’m having online more than I am.

Toward that end, I want to try doing something inspired by The Information – but based on the place online I’m most active: Twitter.  Thus I offer, for our mutual enlightenment and inspiration, the Top 3 Best Replies I Got on Twitter This Week.  I want to highlight them, put them in context, share the wealth of information available if you follow the people and the content in these conversations, and encourage my network on Twitter (and elsewhere) to meet each other.  I am super grateful to be able to have all these awesome conversations in a given week!

In no particular order…

Gabe Rivera and the Facebook Newsfeed

No doubt you’ve heard the controversy this week over Facebook allegedly instructing contractors editing their super influential top news widget to suppress links to conservative websites.  Jason Calacanis said on This Week in Startups that he thinks a part of it is that many of the conservative sites in question are more focused on commentary than on the kind of original reporting that Facebook wants to highlight.  That’s a fair, well informed guess at part of what’s going on there.

I really like how Gabe Rivera, founder of venerable tech news aggregator Techmeme and great political aggregator Memeorandum, puts it.  Techmeme has had humans helping machines by editing story selection and even headlines for years.  I interviewed his first editor Megan McCarthy 7 years ago.

Gabe Tweets, “A contention (now more poignant): a key avenue for improving News Feed has always been to introduce certain forms of human editorial input.”  I said the winning team is almost always hybrid, intended as an allusion to Tyler Cowan’s writing about human/machine hybrid chess teams, and Gabe replied, “I’m sure it’s hybrid already by some definition. What I’m claiming is per-story moderations could improve NF [newsfeed] experience for all.” (Emphasis added.)  As Cowan says, the future belongs to humble humans collaborating well with intelligent machines.

Andreas Antonopoulos on Surveillance Privilege

I’ve had the incredible privilege this month to facilitate two long conversations between blockchain expert Andreas Antonopoulos and futurist Dr. Wendy Schultz – both, according to our data at Little Bird, the most influential people in the world in their respective fields, blockchain and women futurists.

Antonopoulos told us stories about research into things like mnemonic wallets, where refugees can upload their financial assets into the blockchain, flee across international borders, then retrieve their money later using nothing but a 12 word passcode they have memorized.  And multi-signatory property ownership based on the blockchain, which has been used for example in societies where women have traditionally not been allowed to own property.  With multisig Bitcoin wallets, if one woman’s husband tries to take her property, he’s unable to without the signatures of the other 6 women who all own it together.  Incredible.

I haven’t been able to share these inspiring stories anywhere outside of telling everyone I know in conversation, but I did Tweet the following this week: “If you’re not worried about gov & corp surveillance, you’re among a very privileged fraction of people on earth,” says @

Some people were unclear on what that meant, but Andreas stepped in to the Tweet stream and clarified really well. “Everyone is surveilled. Often that surveillance is by oppressive/brutal governments. Ours isn’t (yet) = privilege.”  As he said in a conversation we had this month, there are 7 billion people on earth and most of them do not have the privilege of shrugging at surveillance.

Sylvian Carle on the Social Graph

I found myself looking at the Likes tab on a few cool peoples’ Twitter profiles on my phone this week and was struck by what a goldmine it is.  It’s another case of getting to leverage someone smart’s judgement and ride along to discover what they discovered.  I said “I spend far too little time on other peoples’ Likes tabs, and I bet you do too.”

To that I got a great reply from Twitter developer advocate turned VC Sylvian Carle, who added “and follow, for people with a small follow list (less than a few hundreds).”  By that he means looking at who the people you follow are following themselves, in particular the really discerning people who follow less than a few hundred people.  Another great reminder.  Back when I was working as a journalist I used to regularly visit the “following” page on the Twitter profiles of rival writers like MG Siegler and Liz Gannes.  They’d meet people face to face in Silicon Valley and follow them on Twitter, then I’d discover them and learn about new companies that way.  Finding the people followed by experts and influencers is core to the discovery power we’ve built at Little Bird, too.  Here’s who Sylvian’s following – some really interesting looking technologists and startups.


Ok, I was going to write about the top 5 conversations I had this week but just putting these 3 in context has taken a good chunk of time.  I also really appreciated threads from Matt Heinz on inspiring B2B marketing thought leaders, Todd Barnard on connections between artificial intelligence, Marshall McLuhan, Flaubert and Voltaire, Ethan Jewett on influencer data analysis and male dominance, Richard MacManus on the distribution of his great new email newsletter Augment Intelligence, my former co-worker Nate Angel on the gender gap in data capture, Adam Duvander on dreams coming true in geolocation APIs and VC Semil Shah on Lemkin bravado, startup growth and scale.

I love Twitter so much!  You should come join me there for fascinating conversations about the future, throughout the day while we work.  I’ve been really busy this month so my numbers are down on Tweet frequency (by 13%) and mentions (24%).  But none the less: the network is rich with opportunity.  And as I say in the tweet I pinned: