You know your mental block is bad when a double shot of espresso doesn’t help. Ugh. Bring on the chocolate cake.
But this week hasn’t been all chocolate cake & tv for me – there was some hardcore learning going on – I just had to work harder for it. In class we have been using Backbone.js to work with API’s (Application Programming Interface). API’s are what a lot of mobile apps use to show & manipulate data in helpful ways. For example, I just downloaded a new app on my phone called Skedadel – it allows you to explore a city by checking out local Instagram photos. You can look at categories like coffee, art, restaurants, etc. I just used Skedadel this morning to find a mountain (this Texas boy is determined to see a bonafide mountain while I’m in upstate country). I was able to do this easily because Skedadel is pulling data from the API’s for Google Maps & Instagram and then organizing it for me. All I do is push a button and voilà – I found a mountain only an hour away that has some incredible views.
That’s the kind of awesome I want to build.
I am not yet a wielder of awesome, but I’m making progress, one slow, painful step at a time. In fact, my whole class is making huge strides. The sites that are being built this week by my fellow classmates have reached a whole new level. One student has created a weather app that shows the google map and current weather conditions of any city in the world. Another student is pulling the top 10 most popular headlines for each of the top ten teams in the NBA. I’m using Etsy’s API to pull items with different descriptors (i.e. Vintage vs. Industrial) to assess price discrepancies between them (basically I want to see if easy sellers charge more based on what words they use to describe their product).
Did I mention we have only been doing this for seven weeks? Seven weeks! Mind blowing. Seriously.
I never thought that at the halfway point of this program that I would be where I’m at right now. Being able to pull data from API’s is the foundation of innovation. Well, maybe not the foundation of innovation, but at least a means of getting there. You can’t get far in influencing human behavior if you don’t know any specifics about it. And that’s the name of the game, right? Influencing people. The goal of an app or website or design is to influence human behavior. Sometimes the target behavior is to get you to spend money. But how cool would it be to have an app that actually lowered the number of children entering the foster care system? Or an app that removed hindrances to providing medical-care to developing countries? How incredible would that be?
I have no idea how to accomplish that, but that’s okay. That’s marathon stuff and I’m still training for a 5K. I’m not there yet.
But that’s where I want to go.