An API for Books – Presentation at Tools of Change

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I recently presented a workshop at the Tools of Change conference entitled: An API for Books. My co-presenter was Alistair Croll, my good friend and a frighteningly smart big data expert and author of Lean Analytics (which you should read). The nice thing about Alistair is that he has nothing to do with the publishing industry, except that he’s just written a book. So he has fresh eyes, but a certain knowledge of the sausage factory. It was a lively event, and I think at least we got some people thinking. Alistair has posted his preso and a bit of analysis on his blog.

My portion of the show focused on a couple of key points:

  • books are made of things we can name (people, places, etc)
  • if we are making ebooks, then we are making HTML, which means we can name these things in our mark-up
  • if we are making an index for our ebooks, then we are making a series of internal links in our book to index entries
  • if we add some semantic info to these index entry links (ie. John Smith is a person), then our index becomes a powerful semantic map of the book
  • which is in turn a powerful API
  • and we can do fun things with APIs — specifically, make new and very different kinds of interfaces for books.

Here’s the deck. Let me know what you think!

Book as API (Hugh McGuire) from Hugh McGuire