ETech – Web Services as a Strategy for Startups

Steward Butterfield from Flickr.
Core idea of Flickr is for people to be able to show and display their photos. Introduced Flickr at last year’s O’Reilly ETech. Flickr API currently has 62 methods. They often release methods before features using them appear on the Flickr website. What did they get out of releasing the API? Trust, utility, discipline (code to their own API), credibility, creativity (give people a sense of ownership in helping blaze new trails, also create a community). Downside? Lost control of scalability, operation headaches, have to deal with other people’s bugs (some programmers aren’t that good–for example making API requests 500 times per second), copyright issues.
Some demos:

They get 250k API requests per day. 100/sec at peak. About 4-5% of traffic is API requests. Interesting to see how web applications grow over the next ten years. The talk was super short so Stewart really didn’t have time to give any insights about companies using web services in general. But still interesting.

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