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APIs: The Unsung Heroes of our Connected World

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What is an API?

APIs: The Unsung Heroes of our Connected World

Connected digital platforms improve our lives in many ways. We use social network profiles to log onto apps and websites, third-party payment systems while online shopping, and we share our activity data from devices like Fitbit. How do all these platforms work together so seamlessly?

It’s all done through a technology known as Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

As today’s infographic from Raconteur demonstrates, thousands of APIs are allowing companies to work together and share data in powerful ways.

Here are the four main business models that use APIs:

Business ModelDescriptionExample Companies
API is the ProductThe API itself is the primary source of revenueAmazon Web Services, Skype
API Projects the ProductAllows partners and third-parties to integrateeBay, Spotify
API Promotes the ProductAdvertises your product, shares data to generate interestAmazon, Vimeo, Netflix
API Powers the ProductA channel to drive new data / content onto platformFacebook, YouTube, Twitter

How Do APIs Work?

An API is essentially a messenger that delivers a request to the provider you’re requesting it from, and then delivers the response back to you. Here are some of real-world examples:

Travel Sites – If you are using a travel site (e.g. Travelocity, Expedia), APIs are what allow that site to “talk to” airline databases to generate results to your query. Without an API, there would be no way for travel websites to aggregate flight and hotel quotes in real time.

Advertising – If you are a marketer, you are likely using a service to manage your campaigns in one place. Social platforms like Twitter have an API for ads that allows for integration between their platform and selected advertising solutions. This keeps marketers from having to log in to every single social website to manage their campaigns.

Apps – Say you open up a weather app on your iWatch. That app needs to get its information from a source, typically a website like weather.com. Apple could scrape information off the website, but APIs allow a more standardized, stable approach for requesting information. This way, weather.com can dictate the structure of information requests to facilitate the seamless flow of information.

Next time you’re cursing the weather forecast on your phone, remember the hero who fetched the information for you.

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How Decentralized Finance Could Make Investing More Accessible

Under the current global financial system, billions of people do not have access to quality assets. Here’s how decentralized finance is changing that.

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Infographic: How Decentralized Finance Could Make Investing More Accessible

Did you know that a majority of the global population doesn’t have access to quality financial assets?

In advanced economies, we are lucky to have simple options to grow and protect our wealth. Banks are all over the place, markets are robust, and we can invest our money into assets like stocks or bonds at the drop of a hat.

In the United States, roughly 52% of people are invested in the stock market – but in a place like India, for example, this portion drops to a paltry 2%. How can we make it possible for people on the “outside” of the financial system to gain access?

Breaking Down Barriers

Today’s infographic comes to us from Abra, and it shows how decentralized finance could make investing a more universal phenomenon, especially for those that don’t have access to the modern financial system.

It lays out four key obstacles that prevent people in developing markets from investing in quality financial assets in the first place:

  1. The Geographic Lottery
    Where you live plays a massive role in determining your ability to build wealth. In advanced Western economies, the average person is much more likely to be invested in financial markets that can help compound wealth.
  2. Financial Literacy and Complexity
    Roughly 3.5 billion adults globally lack an understanding of basic financial concepts, which creates an impenetrable barrier to investing.
  3. Local Market Turmoil
    Even if a person is mentally prepared to invest, local market turmoil (hyperinflation, political crises, closed borders, etc.) can make it difficult to get access to stable assets.
  4. The Cost of Investing in Foreign Markets
    Foreign assets can be pricey. One share of Amazon is $1,800, which is realistically more money than many people around the world can afford.

In other words, there are billions of people globally that can’t take advantage of some of the most effective wealth-building tactics.

This is just one flaw in the current financial system, a paradigm that has created massive amounts of wealth but only for a specific and well-connected group of people.

Enter Decentralized Finance

Could decentralized finance be the alternative to open up access to financial markets?

By combining apps with blockchain technology – specifically through public blockchains such as Bitcoin or Ethereum – decentralized finance makes it possible to get around some of the barriers that are created by more traditional systems.

Here are some of the innovations that are making this possible:

Smart contracts could automate transactions and remove intermediaries, making investing cheaper, faster, and more accessible.

Fractional investing could allow partial or shared ownership of financial assets by using tokenization. This would make expensive stocks like Amazon ($1,800 per share) available to a much wider segment of the population.

Location independent investing is possible through smartphones. This would make it possible for people in remote parts of the developing world to invest, even without access to nearby financial institutions or local markets.

Like the internet with knowledge, decentralized finance could reshape the world by making financial access universal. Who’s ready?

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How Much Data is Generated Each Day?

By 2020, there will be 40x more bytes of data than there are stars in the observable universe. See how much data gets added to the mix each and every day.

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How Much Data is Generated Each Day?

View the full-size version of the infographic by clicking here

You’ve probably heard of kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, or even terabytes.

These data units are common everyday amounts that the average person may run into. Units this size may be big enough to quantify the amount of data sent in an email attachment, or the data stored on a hard drive, for example.

In the coming years, however, these common units will begin to seem more quaint – that’s because the entire digital universe is expected to reach 44 zettabytes by 2020.

If this number is correct, it will mean there are 40 times more bytes than there are stars in the observable universe.

A Crash Course in Data

Today’s infographic comes to us from Raconteur, and it gives us a picture of this new data reality.

Before we get to how much data is created each day – both now, and in the future – it’s worth getting acquainted with how data scales in terms of units.

AbbreviationUnitValueSize (in bytes)
bbit0 or 11/8 of a byte
Bbytes8 bits1 byte
KBkilobytes1,000 bytes1,000 bytes
MBmegabyte1,000² bytes1,000,000 bytes
GBgigabyte1,000³ bytes1,000,000,000 bytes
TBterabyte1,000⁴ bytes1,000,000,000,000 bytes
PBpetabyte1,000⁵ bytes1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes
EBexabyte1,000⁶ bytes1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes
ZBzettabyte1,000⁷ bytes1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes
YByottabyte1,000⁸ bytes1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes

There’s no doubt that data literacy will only become more important in the future, so make sure you know your zettabytes from your yottabytes!

A Day of Data

How much data is generated in a day – and what could this look like as we enter an even more data-driven future?

Here are some key daily statistics highlighted in the infographic:

  • 500 million tweets are sent
  • 294 billion emails are sent
  • 4 petabytes of data are created on Facebook
  • 4 terabytes of data are created from each connected car
  • 65 billion messages are sent on WhatsApp
  • 5 billion searches are made

By 2025, it’s estimated that 463 exabytes of data will be created each day globally – that’s the equivalent of 212,765,957 DVDs per day!

If you think the above information is fascinating, see what happens in an internet minute.

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