Ghostly fingers of APIs

When writing my previous post about aggregation I started thinking about all the small pieces of me that are loosely joined around the web. Today I decided to see what all those connections looked like:

Ghostly fingers of APIs

It’s a bit clearer at the larger size. Along the top are five of my own websites. The red arrows show things that I update by hand — writing weblog posts, adding Delicious links, uploading photos, etc. The grey arrows show one website automatically updating another without my intervention.

I started thinking I’d create a gorgeous graphic but soon realised it was going to be too complicated and interweaving to be as elegant as I first imagined.

A good proportion of those sites I almost never visit: Pownce, FriendFeed, Tumblr, Jaiku, Brightkite, LiveJournal and Fire Eagle (which is designed so you don’t have to visit it). They trundle along, getting updated by the ghostly fingers of APIs without me actively using them. Quite magic, almost scary, and possibly a little pointless.

On the off-chance you want to draw your own graphic — I bet some of you would have far more complicated ones — and you use OmniGraffle, here’s my original document to give you a head start with the logos etc. Do post a comment if you make your own.


  • I've been working on a similar idea for a while, but because I've been trying to make it elegant and attractive, it's been very hard.
    I wanted to base it on this beautiful graphic:…
    ...with me in the place of Walt Disney. I think if I copy your "manual update" arrow idea, it will flow a lot better. I have far less items on mine, but I do include my contacts, calendar items and tasks.

  • I use most of those services as well. But they are not pointless, at least not for me. Why? I occasionally visit my own friendfeed page. It reminds me what I saw in the last few days. But the real power of friendfeed or jaiku is that you can get a river of links from your own contacts. That is an amazing information stream for me and one who's quality I highly value. Just my 2 cents :)

  • I've just noticed that Brightkite can't currently fetch location information from FireEagle, although I assumed this on the diagram. Which means, in turn, that Brightkite isn't going to be updating Twitter, Jaiku or FriendFeed with my location information. Hopefully they'll get it working soon.

  • This all stikes a chord
    I seem to constantly be signing up for new sites that I can feed with a range of data feeds and the maelstorm of information that I have now swirling around the net is getting bewildering.

    One site I have found pretty good is swurl (…) because of the timeline it creates which gives some good structure to stuff.

    I am liking the various sites that enable you to record what one is doing in the real world - radio pop, library thing, memiary, blippr, art rabbit, dopplr, etc

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Wednesday 29 October 2008, 10:15pm

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Music listened to most that week

  1. Camera Obscura (11)
  2. The Mountain Goats (10)
  3. Jaga Jazzist (8)
  4. Alton Ellis (8)
  5. Calexico (6)
  6. Joe Bataan (4)
  7. Bec & Beth (4)
  8. Bloc Party (4)
  9. Quickspace (3)
  10. J Mascis (2)

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