Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Opening the LinkedIn kimono – API Style

Well, I don’t think a lot of readers may have noticed my recent comment on a Jeremiah post that we, at LinkedIn, were seriously evaluating APIs, “the technical details which enable programmers to write applications which would interface seamlessly” with our site. Last week, Reid Hoffman (one of our co-founders) mentioned to Dan Farber (ZdNet) at the Supernova conference — that we’ll be delivering APIs to developers over the next 9 months.

As a matter of fact, APIs was one of the first topics I discussed with my colleague Steve Ganz (who was responsible for republishing public profiles in the hResume format). The recent Zdnet piece and the ensuing blogosphere chatter is heartening in that it highlights the value that LinkedIn provides to millions of professional users, and the opportunity to enhance that business value by opening APIs to developers is significant. From the TechMeme thread, a few blogs stood out for some constructive suggestions; for e.g. Read/Write Web’s post “LinkedIn to Open Up” that suggests potential feature sets that the APIs may enable:

For example, it would be great to see a visualization of all of my connections as a network; and on a map. It would be also great to be able to explore my network, using a visualization technique like Thinkmap. Another more subtle thing that is missing from LinkedIn is the strength of the relationship. Not all of my connections are equal, some are much stronger than others. This is a very valuable piece of information that can help a lot with things like lead generation. It is not easy to capture the strength of the relationship, but even a trivial heuristic like ‘number of times I’ve clicked on someone’s profile’ would be a good start.

To sound cliched: the possibilities are indeed endless. There are other posts such as Dave Winer’s “Will LinkedIn Open Up?” where he talks about taking it even one step further:

It would be cool if they just implemented an identity service that managed relationships between users, and allowed developers to define the relationships. Rather than incrementally one-upping each other by being slightly more open, why not go all the way, and operate an identity service for your own application and for everyone else. This would put Linked-in (or whoever) at the center of Internet 3.0.

What are your thoughts on the topic? I’m curious to know, as a user of LinkedIn, what kind of features can you see yourself benefiting most from?

Feel free to share your thoughts on the topic. Leave a comment.

(I’m the Community Evangelist at LinkedIn and these are my personal musings. And, yes, I like the word “musings”)

Filed under: Linkedin

5 Responses

  1. Dude this is awesome! Great move for LinkedIn. Also interesting to see what Plaxo is doing. This is going to be interesting.

    I’ll be starting a blogosphere prediction rant/rave soon. “Who will acquire who, plaxo or linkedin”….
    ;)

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  2. something like ‘notes’ from Facebook would be great !
    Skype and paypal apps are also a must, I think.
    LinkedIn can learn a few things from the new Facebook, without losing it’s professional image … Look forward to see it happen.

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  3. [...] LinkedIn has recently said it will open up an API [...]

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  4. [...] Opening the LinkedIn kimono – API Style (Marketing Nirvana) Great news, LinkedIn has announced that they will open up their site with an API within the next 9 months. This posting gives some ideas of how it can be used. I’m pretty curious what will be part of the API, and what not. (tags: linkedin api automagic mashups semanticweb) [...]

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  5. John Hoye says:

    This is a great idea. I assumed LinkedIn already had this capability as I was spouting off about an app we could build using our APIs that would make our sales force very effective. I was disappointed to find out there were no APIs yet. My company does sofwtare engineering for about 130 sofwtare companies. We are also a Sequoia. We’d be happy help you build the APIs and beta test it with our new LinkedIn app.

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