Categorized | happenings

LinkedIn opens its API

LinkedIn logo
The “In” part is now open.

LinkedIn has joined the rising tide — or should I call it incipient tsunami — of social networking sites with an API open for developers (an API, if you’re sick and tired of computer industry acronyms, is an “application programming interface” that allows other software to interact with that application — companies typically keep the API of their software under lock and key, while some license it to select developers — an open API means that practically any developer can write software for the application). We’ve seen a storm of applications for Facebook, almost all of which are time wasters, after they opened their API. I’m sure Mafia Wars for LinkedIn is not in anyone’s future, but expect an exponential increase in the usefulness of the site in the next 12 months.

And if you’re technically inclined (or your idea-inclined and have access to eLance), you may want to put your foot in this rising tide. In the research I’ve done on apps entrepreneurs, the best time to launch is when an API opens up. So maybe there is a Mafia Wars in LinkedIn’s future after all . . .

If you’re interested, you can register at developer.linkedin.com. CIO magazine interviewed the folks over at TweetDeck who helped LinkedIn launch the new platform:

These developers helped to provide feedback, which allowed the LinkedIn Platform to become “so easy to maneuver that developers will be able to get going in minutes,” Nash says. Iain Dodsworth, founder and CIO of TweetDeck, says that his team was able to “request a key and actually write functioning code in less than 15 minutes.”

That is assuming, of course, that you know what you’re doing in the first place.

There are now four major social networking applications with open APIs: Google Wave (which is still a bright opportunity), Facebook (since April), LinkedIn (starting today), and Salesforce.com’s recently announced Chatterbox, which we haven’t seen yet.

Now Facebook has become simply one game and distraction after another. Stuff like Farm Life or whatever it’s called and Mafia Wars are not serious, professional networking tools, as are quizzes about which Scooby Doo character you are (I volunteer for Carsten Creeps). Google Wave is still too untried and unpopulated and Chatterbox Collaboration is hot air. You can probably expect LinkedIn apps to be far more serious and task-oriented than the Facebook frippery, so developing the apps may be more difficult in terms of actually delivering value to the customer. Not only more thought will need to go into the app, more development time may be required, as well, since the focus will be on functionality rather than foolishness.

But with BOTH an open LinkedIn API and an open Facebook API, well, the possibilities are endless . . .

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