So many valuable things happened (and are happening) out of last week’s Indie Ed-Tech gathering in Davidson, and one of the biggest payoffs was the session Kin Lane, the API Evangelist, evangelized for us, Indie EdTech and The Personal API.

The acronym helps it none, but the way Kin explained an API as something that “isn’t that different from a website.”

On the surface, it seems similar to what I’ve read on countless blog posts explaining blockchains as “just a shared database”. It’s said as if that explains it. And I never understand it.

But Kin explained with not just examples, but ones we can manipulate.

Sending data via a POST command to a web API

Sending data via a POST command to a web API

When you do stuff via a web browser, it sends a request to a web server, that returns with a bunch of stuff you see on the screen. If that stuff is a form, you might send it back and get something else. An API does the same stuff as your browser talking to a server, but it is meant for one machine to make a request to another, and it does not need to deal with CSS or themes, or pretty pictures. Just data.

So for the Creative Commons Certification project I am just starting on, what if it’s representation is not a certificate, or a badge, but something that is rendered via an API, that could be then done in any format a person or organization might need?

As a granter of the certification, this means Creative Commons is a central point for managing the data that generates the certificates, but that seems apt. But as represented by an API, the certificate is not something baked and sealed, but it could change or grow over time.

Someone applying for it would authorize themselves via established ID means (Google, Twitter, Facebook authentication). An API would hold records for the person, where the are, etc. And all the other fields that represent the certificate criteria, and links to evidence etc.

This may be pretty much the description of an Open Badge, though all the data in an open badge seems to be described as fixed metadata, but there is a specification, and who knows, we may ben using that or not. We are rather far from running out and picking a technology.

I am just trying to work my mind around the way a certificate might be represented, and if an API is a way to make it work in a variety of contexts.

I’ve not been able to find any descriptions of an API being used to render or deliver a certification, because any search on certification gets all the stuff about authentication systems.

So that’s what I am seeking out Yoda-Kin in the forest, to see if (a) I am off in some dead end corner of the galaxy; (b) where there might be some planets where the API Force is used for managing / delivering certifications, and if so (c) my task is to sort out how one becomes a JED-API.

Okay, I have done more than enough Star Wars pun damage. Especially before the badge people wave their Alliance flag in my face.


Top / Featured Image: Blame me for the questionable taste remix. That is my photo of Kin Lane from last weekend’s Indie Ed-Tech meeting, a flickr photo https://flickr.com/photos/cogdog/25262109954 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license superimposed on one of a gazillion images of Yoda found in a google image search. Okay that’s probably not open to remix, but hey, Yoda is part of pop culture, and so sweet, and green, and wise, and… well it’s all in the name of remix.

I am counting on Kin having a good sense of humor.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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