As I mentioned in my last post, the Chief Information Architect (Phil Windley) and CIO (Kelly Flannagan) of Brigham Young University visited UMW last week to learn more about the Domain of One’s Own project we’ve been running for the last couple of years. They have a really compelling vision for Domain of One’s Own that in many ways hearkens back to Jon Udell‘s broader notion of digital identity across all domains of society. They see domain’s across a spectrum that begins long before students get to BYU and long after they graduate. And this space isn’t just about their education, it’s a broader vision of a kind of personal interface for one’s online world that enables them to manage, share, and archive the various lifebits they accrue over time.
Thanks to Kin Lane’s white paper The University of API I had a pretty good idea of what Phil and Kelly have been up to at BYU over the last decade or so:
It takes a forward thinking IT group, that is aware of what has been happening across the tech landscape over the last 14 years, with APIs. This type of transition in thinking can be seen playing out at Brigham Young University with their over 250+ APIs….BYU is still just beginning to get a handle on what a centralized developer area will look like, let alone an organized and consistent approach to designing, deploying and managing APIs.
They have been working to create what they called a “University API” —a consistent, structured API across all the various systems to enable their community to access, share, and analyze a wide variety of data from across the university. It’s a pretty bold vision, and I had the pleasure of sitting in while they explained it to our IT group. I was blown away by how these two are rethinking the way in which we share data across the university, and the discussion helped me further grok the value and import of APIs more generally. (I’m getting there, Kin!)
What struck me as the day went on is that for BYU, Domain of One’s Own represents a model that provides faculty and students an access point for data literacy, agency, and broader control over what’s being provided by their University API. Not to mention the tools to innovate with that data. The domain is a personal API; a space where individuals becomes increasingly empowered to understand, manage, hack, and share the data that defines them.
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