Seth (and commenters) -

   The basic point is sound, but  there are some important issues that are
averted or are  elided  in the original article in order to make the
underlying point more clearly.

1:  It should be quite clear that there is no need to develop an API for
the sole purpose of generating an alternate representation of a [document]
in a form that is intended to be machine actionable as opposed to one that
is intended to be rendered for human consumption, and the referent  This is
precisely what the content negotiation mechanism was designed for.

2: It is less clear, but still reasonable, to use content negotiation to
treat content types for the same URI polysemously (having related,but
slightly different senses).  For example, the HTML rendering of a URI may
carry slightly  different propositional content than is carried in a set of
RDF assertions*.

3: For stative actions not related to content, a formally defined API is

4: Since there is no intrinsic relationship between two objects with
different URIs, breaking the connection for items which are identical** may
require extra work to repair.

5: Cacheable content negotiation in HTTP has been around since the mid-late
nineties. It's retro-chic.

6: API keys that protect information extractable from non-api protected
sources were created to encourage people to learn how to implement
screen-scrapers and finite state transducers.

7: The commenter who brought up the issue of the same URI denoting
different FRBR entities must make a number of  metaphysical commitments.
Resulting models are FRBR-like, but are not pure FRBR.  If the 1:1
principle were real, any of these approaches would present insuperable


* Under a documentationalist interpretation, the propositional content must
be different, so allowing  at least some degree of polysemy is hard to

** absolute identity cannot apply, but most forms of relative identity have
obvious interpretations.

On Fri, Nov 29, 2013 at 8:24 AM, Seth van Hooland <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> Dear all,
> I guess some of you will be interested in the blogpost of my colleague and
> co-author Ruben regarding the misunderstandings on the use and abuse of
> APIs in a digital libraries context, including a description of both good
> and bad practices from Europeana, DPLA and the Cooper Hewitt museum:
> Kind regards,
> Seth van Hooland
> Président du Master en Sciences et Technologies de l'Information et de la
> Communication (MaSTIC)
> Université Libre de Bruxelles
> Av. F.D. Roosevelt, 50 CP 123  | 1050 Bruxelles
> 0032 2 650 4765
> Office: DC11.102