SXSW Interactive Part 2: Thanks to technology, you can take it with you

One of the most interesting discoveries I made while at South by Southwest Interactive was all of the exciting stuff people are doing with Advanced Programming Interfaces, or APIs. Did I lose you at “advanced” or “interface” and you want to go back to reading about Terminator? Don’t worry if you have no idea what an API is–I didn’t either, until I did a little poking around the Internet. Shelly Bernstein of the Brooklyn Museum wrote a very helpful explanation for all us non-programmers. Simply put, organizations can use APIs to open up their vast libraries of information (the New York Times archives, the collections at the Brookyn Museum) so that outside developers can develop new ways for users to access that information.

The next time you get something useful from Twitter, a Facebook ap or your iPhone, thank a movement that is goosing large, information-rich organizations to get more of their information out there via APIs. A badge on your blog that serves up relevant content from your favorite publication, or a mini-gallery straight to your iPhone are two ways that the collaboration fostered by APIs can manifest.

It turns out that “social networking” is more than just updating your Facebook status. And as organizations begin to open a two-way conversation with the public via social media, we would be remiss in failing to recognize the opportunities in the kind of information sharing that can grow out of APIs.  This is a different type of social/online interaction–inviting in talented collaborators from the tech world to help us do a better job of getting vital information into new spaces–but as mobile devices begin taking over the world, an increasingly vital one.

And while the Film Society of Lincoln Center isn’t equipped yet to offer our visitors creative and/or mobile access our deep reservoir of knowledge on classic films and festival selections from the New York Film Festival and New Directors/New Films, it isn’t hard to imagine a future in which we will be able to index exactly that sort of content, and serve as a resource for students studying film, offer movie-lovers  a mobile gateway into a deeper understanding of what they’ve just seen, or to simply help someone select a new discovery from our diverse offerings.

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