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Circular Wonderings is an exploration of the role of digital, software and technology in the Circular Economy. Exploration is the key word here. I write regularly, reflecting on my current thoughts and research. Expect typos, incomplete thoughts, varied rambling topics and (hopefully) a journey towards clearer understanding and insight. Subscribe here to join my journey.

API as collaboration?

In a previous #circularwandering [1] I talked about "Integration and collaboration" and how "for a successful Circular Economy we need collaboration.

I said "when I think of circular collaboration from the software point of view: I think of Open Data and APIs".

So: what is it about Open Data & APIs that makes me think of them in his context?

My journey basically starts from the fact that no single organisation can be truly 'circular'. With the right mindset and approach an organisation can benefit from being part of a circular system (economy).

So, next I wonder how this affects the software we create for and use in that organisation.

If (and too often we do) we view an organisation as an independent entity, then we focus on simple linear processes within and around that organisation. So we create software that is all about optimising those internal processes and those that directly affect those linear goals.

However, if we are looking to optimise circular processes then cross organisation communication becomes both more prominent and more complex. Rather than optimising for linear flow of stock and sales (for example), we need to consider issues like reverse logistics, tracking reuse, understanding the specifics of each component of the product for repair, replacement and so on.

Of course, it's not quite as black and white as that. Most businesses have those complexities, even in a 'linear' economy. My point is that in a fully circular economy these complications and both larger and more important.

So, basically, our software needs to put information sharing across organisational boundaries at its core. Two of the most fundamental approaches to do that is Open Data and APIs.