Personal APIs

How many cups of Coffee did you drink last wednesday ? Did they make you feel more / less productive? Was your sleep any better / worse? On the days you were sleeping better, how was your exercise level?

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m fan of the Quantified Self movement. I’ve religiously logged parameters ranging from Coffe intake to sleep duration to code commits for a few months last year but gave up because it was too inconvenient. Time passed and Facebook happened to announce the Timeline at F8. This turned out to be my big ‘Aha!’ moment. What if you could create a private semi-anonymous Facebook account to hold all your data? Facebook has become the defacto social layer most apps, so the convinience is there. With frictionless sharing, I can now pipe everything from my Spotify activity to Chess games back to Facebook. Check-in to your heart’s content without worrying about spamming your friends (Who wants to broadcast that they’re eating at Subway?). The Applications are nearly limitless. Exercise logs (Run Keeper, Fitbit etc) ? Diaries ? Sleep quality? Movies you’ve watched? Music you’ve listened to? Check-ins ? Books you’ve read (Goodreads) ? _Browser history_ (via RescueTime) ? Virtually every app that offers a “Login with Facebook” could go in here.

Everything seemed perfect at this point and I did create a Facebook account to hold all this data. What’s the worst that could happen ? Facebook would use this data to do targeted advertising. Which is mostly useless because I have zero friends on the account and haven’t liked any pages. And then a few days ago, PRISM suddenly happened. We’re talking about trusting Facebook’s servers with everything from your most private thoughts to your calorie / supplement intake. We’ve become fairly comfortable with Facebook having this data, but showing all this to Big Sam ?

This brings us to our conclusion. There is now definitely a case for a self-hosted personal API that is secure. What would be awesome is if I could somehow pipe the data from all these separate apps to my self-hosted application rather than Facebook.


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