Several times over the course of doing API Evangelist I’ve found myself financially broke. I have done pretty good at making a living over the last eight years, but along the way shit has just happened. The number reason I fall short in the bank account is that people don’t pay their bills. The second reason, is that I do way too much for free, and people extract value from me and my work, and do not give back. I’ve learned just how much the technology sector is designed to support people falling into this trap by encouraging you to be open, which is primarily so that someone can capture the value, often times without attribution, or recognition.
The is the default mode of operation for many companies in the API space to extract as much value as they can, and give as little back as they possibly can. I have companies who will never tweet out one of my stories, unless I write about them. There are people who will ask me to talk to a VC on behalf of their company, and kick nothing in return when they receive millions in funding. I will regularly write about a company and their technology, and never get even a mention on their blog, in their newsletter, or mentioned and thanked via Twitter. I can go on, and on, about the ways in which the current system is setup for extracting value, and giving nothing back–the tech sector is engineered to mine value wherever it can find it.
I’m still committed to publishing openly on my blog, but in 2018 you’ll see me pull back significantly in my support of other companies through linking, tweeting, and referencing as part of my API research. I’m going to remove most company references in my final API research guides, and just reference the solutions, and open source tools they bring to the table. Unless I’m directly getting sponsored, or have other partner arrangement with a company, you probably won’t see them linked to, or specifically featured in any my long form work. It sounds like selling out at first, but after eight years of giving, giving, and giving, and getting nothing back–I am over it. I’d rather stick around, than be giving it all away for free.
This journey to get to this place has been difficult for me. I’ve been a big believer in open data, open APIs, and open source. However, I also have seen how much these things get exploited by startups, tech giants, and just individual opportunists. You won’t find me pushing for completely open APIs anymore. Sure, if you make it hard for me to test drive, then I might bitch a little, or more likely just move on. However, I’m not going to be in the business of telling any individual or other entity that they should be making their valuable resources available online to everyone for free. I may try and make a compelling argument for why someone might want to, and still make some of my resources available for free, but this will be in special cases, and not be the default mode of operation anymore.
In 2018, you want a reference to your company in my final research–let’s find a way to work together. If you want to talk with me on the phone, my consulting time is billed in 15 minute increments. You want a link on my website to your products and services, we should have some sort of existing partner arrangement, otherwise you will be reduced to a light mention. Want me tweeting out your story, it better be damn good, and offer value to me and my readers. You just won’t find me giving away the exhaust from my hard work for nothing anymore. I’m sorry. I know many folks still depend on my work to understand what is going on–you should still be able to do this via my blog. If there is one of my guides or white papers you want to have access, but can’t afford–just ask me. I’m pulling back to ensure I stick around in coming years, not to screw folks over. I am just trying to minimize getting screwed over myself by giving away too much. Thanks for understanding.