Net API Notes for 2020/04/07 - Issue 126 - COVID Watch Party Edition

Like many folks sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, I've been watching a fair amount of streaming video. Thankfully, there's many thoughtful and entertaining clips. To the notes!



Sam Newman, an author of multiple microservice books, has started a new video channel on YouTube. In his first video, he answers the question, "Are microservices a good fit for a startup?".

Not everybody has the opportunity to partake in greenfield development. However, if you are, Sam's straightforward, well-reasoned take is a excellent piece of advice to take. And if the pandemic is going to trap Sam in the bright, blue-screened weather set for the next few months making videos, we will all benefit.


Tom Scott is an English science educator. In his most recent video, he polls the YouTube API to get the watch count for the video, then updates the video title with that count. On it's own, it is a neat little trick. However, Tom uses that subtle bit of internet plumbing as an exploration into the early days of 'the social web' (or Web 2.0), the exploitation of that naivete, and it's relation to the heat death of the universe.

On Twitter, some of the initial reaction to the video questioned whether APIs were actually part of Web 2.0 or whether they came later. Thankfully, Tim O'Reilly, coiner of 'Web 2.0', chimed in and quickly cleared things up:

Picture of Tim O'Reilly tweet clarifying Web 2.0.


The final video is meant to be a parody. However, I'd guess Krazam's passion play of microservice difficulty probably comes across as too much of a documentary for many developers.

I want to especially mention the part of the product manager and his exit at the end. Scary how I've not only known guys like that - in weaker moments, I've been that guy.



Despite being safe and employed, I was a bit down last week. Estimates vary widely, but it is becoming apparent to many that a "return to normal" won't be happening soon, if at all.

I've curated for years. As I mentioned last time, some, like O'Reilly, have ended their physical events. Others, like Microsoft, have announced that all their conferences will be virtual for the rest of 2020. The Berlin microservice conference, microxchg, is also considering an online and free event. I've tried to track and note those changes where they make sense for

On the one hand, this will be a boon for smaller organizers. Without significant, upfront deposits reserving physical space, the barriers to entry are significantly reduced. The cost of failure is also lessened. Want to experiment with pay-to-view shouting matches between macroservice and picoservice thought-leaders? Go right ahead.

AsyncAPI, for example, is hosting an online conference April 22nd and it is 100% free. Previously, they might moderate (or sponsor) an event-driven API track at a more established conference. However, all things being equal, there's little reason Fran Méndez and crew shouldn't try their own thing.

That also means, however, that the amount of competition for a limited amount of attention has also ramped-up, considerably. In the magic circle of a physical conference, attendees will make a reasonable effort to pay attention. Even if their company paid their way, they seek a return on their time investment. Online, the attendee "sunk costs" are lower. There's always something more enlightening (or entertaining) a browser tab away. The competition will be intense.

The economics are also different. It will be difficult for an online event to charge anything for online education when Pluralsight and are waiving their fees for April. O'Reilly, previously mentioned, is offering free learning membership for US government employees for a limited time. The amount of competition will drive fees for continuous learning to zero. Great for attendees, in the short term. Tough sledding for organizers.

The changes to technical conferences will challenge our conceptions of what it means to educate and rally a community. However, it also will expand the opportunities, especially for those for whom attending conferences was difficult or not covered by their companies. Guidelines for how to do this well will take time. In the meantime, some of these events are going to suck, while others will be surprise diamonds-in-the-rough. During this transition, it will be challenging to pick the winners from disappointments ahead of time.

If you attend an online event that succeeded where others fail, let me know. I'd love to hear about what made it impactful for sharing with others.

To end, I want to express my gratitude to the Patreons who support this work. I appreciate you're not only willing to read, but financially support writing you want to see in the world. Thank you.

Till next time,

Matthew @libel_vox and

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