The APIs are Here!

It may not be as exciting as when Steve Martin discovered “The new phone books are here!” in the 1979 Carl Reiner film The Jerk, but we are starting to roll out full APIs for SpokenWord.org. It’s a RESTful interface and the first flavor of response formats is JSON, so it should be easy to use from any programming language. (We plan to off XML responses as an option if enough developers complain about JSON.)

If you’ve used the Twitter APIs, you’ll see that we modeled ours after theirs in many ways. We also took the idea of a Remote Key for authentication from FriendFeed. (OAuth is coming soon.) The initial methods allow you to set and get ratings of programs, feeds and collections and to retrieve extended metadata about individual programs. We’ll be publishing new methods very quickly, but we’re anxious to get feedback from developers before we go too far. The full API documentation is available online. If you have comments, questions, suggestions or bug reports about the new APIs, post them to our API Forum or join our API Mailing List.

A special Thanks goes out to all of those who have participated on that list to help us design a set of APIs that people will actually use.

SpokenWord.org Town Hall Conference Call

Interested in what’s coming from SpokenWord.org? Want to participate in the discussion? Join us for a conference call on Thursday:

August 27, 2009
Noon Pacific Daylight Time
Phone Number: +1.724.444.7444
Call ID: 18232

It’s best to access via the TalkShoe web site if you want to speak or ask questions: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/18232

Our agenda will include:

  • new-feature planning
  • APIs
  • traffic-building activities

I hope you can join us on Thursday. If not, we’ll be making an MP3 recording available. Of course. Can’t make it? Email your questions or agenda items in advance: doug@conversationsnetwork.org

The Book Oven

Hugh McGuire and I have met only once, but we immediately recognized in each other similar ambitions, motivations and values. While I was building The Conversations Network, Hugh was doing the same for Librivox. (Thanks to Jon Udell for introducing us.) And for the past year, as I was working on SpokenWord.org (with Hugh’s help as an advisor) he was creating an excellent new site: the Book Oven.

If you’re involved in any aspect of publishing (as a writer, editor, proofreader, small publisher, designer or agent) you need to check this out. After successfully publishing more than 2,500 audiobooks on LibriVox, Hugh refers to the new project as “cloud-based publishing.” Crowdsourcing itself isn’t new, but the Book Oven promises to apply crowdsourcing to all aspects of publishing. The first component is called Bit-Sized Edits: sort of a mesh of Nathan McFarland’s CastingWords (based on Amazon’s Mechanican Turk) and the reCAPTCHA project.

As Hugh admits, the Book Oven is just getting started, but there’s already enough there to make it worth your time to visit and get involved. If you’re in the publishing world, you’ll want to be part of the Book Oven from the beginning.

A Great New Feedback Widget

Two weeks ago we posted a simple survey asking for your input on new directions for SpokenWord.org. This week we’ve gone a big step further and given you direct access to our to-do list. Not only can you vote for ideas already on the list, but you can also add your own. (And we take those votes seriously.)

Look for the new red “feedback” button on the left edge of every SpokenWord.org page. From there you can go to the Feedback Forum (the to-do list) or report a bug.

OK, so many of you did this just two week ago, but this is a better opportunity to see what we’re thinking and to express your opinions in far more detail. Thanks to UserVoice for this great new service.

Shortcut to the Feedback Forum

More ID Partners for SpokenWord.org

Thanks to a terrific service called RPX from JanRain, I’ve rewritten all of the code on SpokenWord.org for third-party identity providers. In addition to OpenID and Facebook, you can now use the following to login to the site: Google, Yahoo!, WordPress, Windows Live, Blogger, Flickr, AOL and Live Journal. Whereas I previously spent many days (each) to implement raw OpenID and Facebook Connect, getting the basic mechanism of RPX up and running takes only about two hours. And most of that is just waiting for a CNAME to appear in DNS. When you’re done, you instantly have access to a whole slew of third-party ID providers. I did spend a few more days to write about 800 lines of code — yeah, most of it was re-purposed — to fully integrate RPX into our existing identity system. But that’s only required if you need to allow users to link to their existing logins and you don’t want to use JanRain’s simplified identity-mapping service. And now, as JanRain adds more features and identity providers to RPX, we get them with no development/integration effort at all.

More Facebook Integration for SpokenWord.org

I’ve added a new feature to SpokenWord.org for Facebook users. When you submit a program to our database or you add a program to one of your SpokenWord.org collections, you’ll be given the chance to post it to your Feed (Wall) on Facebook. Note that this only works if you’ve previously logged into our site using your Facebook ID and your’e currently logged into Facebook.