Sensored Meetup #10: Data! APIs! Standards!

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Lemnos Labs, 85 Bluxome Street, San Francisco, CA
Sensored Meetup #10: Data! APIs! Standards!

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At this meetup, we're going to have 4 speakers and a panel discussion focused on different aspects of data. What are the different ways to access data from a sensor device, and what are the tradeoffs?

Data, data everywhere. Now what?

We, the community working with sensors and data, have many open questions and challenges. It's an exciting time to be in this field, but there are a lot of things we're still trying to figure out. We're not going to give out solutions here; the goal is to initiate a conversation about common problems we face. Then we can talk about how to solve them, in an ongoing iterative way.



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Things we talked about:

  • What is and how old is the oldest device you have with you that you're using?
    • Key fob
  • What is and how old is the oldest software you're running?
    • ...
  • What is and how old is the oldest piece of your own data you have?
    • ...

Rachel's questions: I can't get access to my data.

  • What's the best way to deal with data accessibility, from a technical and from a business perspective?

Tantek's talk:

One of the problems of proprietary APIs is that the API owner can change it on a whim, causing software built on top of it to break.

Does anyone have any electronic devices on their person in this room that’s more than 2 years old?

Devices may be disposable, but your data shouldn’t be.

Why should I put any data into a service of young companies doing interesting things like you’re doing - they always just get acquired by bigger companies who promptly shut down half the stuff you were pouring your data into.

When setting your data up to survive transitions through who knows what comes, the smaller and simpler your data format, the more likely it will survive. Simple text files are near immortal.


Open Q & A Session with all the speakers

Q: How do you incentivize companies at every layer (sensors, etc.) to buy in to open data, and to making data available for the long term.

A: Kostner: ~“People at these companies are starting to realize the value of connecting these devices together at a high level and are asking for standards, despite the perceived cost.”

Chris Jefferies: “If people start realizing they don’t own the data, people will stop supporting them. ... If people start demanding to have their data the way they want it...”

Rachel: “We’re heading toward the Apple Internet of Things vs. the Google IoT, etc. We want there to be only one. What we really want to be able to do is to be able to take in multiple streams of data [to do something interesting].”

Tantek: We need to create an Ecosystem of Open Data. Once you’ve done that, it lowers the cost of building into the open ecosystem rather than building 1,000 unique silos for each of 1,000 companies. Mozilla is making FirefoxOS for cheap/nearly free devices. He thinks small devices will lead the way in promoting an open ecosystem. For expensive devices like smartphones, companies can budget to build a walled garden. For little devices made by little companies, sticking to standards lowers the cost of creating the device.

Rachel: (regarding Tantek’s comment that “things that fit in your pocket” will lead the push for shared standards.) “I had to have a custom skirt made to carry my sensors. Guys have pockets to put their sensors in. Girls’ clothing doesn’t. I had to have this skirt custom made to have pockets.”

Tantek: “So we need a fashion disruption as well.”


Duppy: Kickstarter and its like give people the chance to show their support for companies building products on open standards.

Q: Is there a specific language people should be writing open data sharing standards in.

A: ChrisJ and Duppy basically say that they don’t want there to be a single scripting language so much as they want open sharing of scripts that people or automated systems can then compile.

Q: How do services like IFTTT fit into this idea.


Tantek: I think it’s a great system for prototyping, but at the end of the day, it’s another Single Point of Failure.

Duppy: It’s good... but: Polling for data is made of fail. It needs to be live data. Great way of showing people how you can do cool things,

PubSubHubbub is a protocol for sending and subscribing to updates of data.

Pu.S.H. is the acronym.

Q: [A restatement of the question, how do we create an ecosystem of open data. How do we make it so that companies build into this ecosystem, and lay the foundations so that something amazing gets kickstarted and becomes the next killer app?]


Duppy: My model is(Information Knowledge Wisdom) - and you can’t do anything with any of those levels if you can’t GET at the data.

Q: Most consumers don’t want to see the raw data, but early adopters do. We, as early adopters have a disproportionate voice, because the next wave of customers listen to us. Is there an organization that lets us speak with a loud voice?


Rachel: I see the opposite happening, where the companies say they’re not developing for the early adopters.

Misfit is excited about being really open, and I’m actually the one saying let’s be careful how we do this. How do we do this in a way that serves everyone’s best interest?


I don’t understand this fear you’re talking about.


If we say hey, you can access all my data in real time, you’re essentially commoditizing the hardware, and then you have a very different economic model.


Maybe you should write good apps on top of your hardware then?


Yes, but we have limited resources as a start-up to put into making awesome hardware vs. making awesome apps on top of it.

Tantek: If you have limited resources, don’t you want to widen the search for the killer app? [i.e. let other people build on your stuff.]

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Sensored Meetup #10: Data! APIs! Standards! was last modified: Thursday, April 11th, 2013