One of the great aspects of Web 2.0 is the availability of numerous APIs that are attracting both professional and hobbyist programmers to build cool new applications. The mashup has been borrowed from Hip-Hop culture and re-envisioned as a combination services and data from multiple locations online. Do you care about the modern views by location on 17th century poetry? You can cross-reference your collection of poems with the one of the news archive APIs and visualize the results on a Google Map.
The flip side to this is that each of these APIs started with a person who saw the benefit to letting data be available and re-usable. API creation is a daunting task, but it can be made easier. The Walden’s Paths project at Texas A&M, which I am currently the lead designer on, has found that by coupling modern database access techniques and the RESTlet library for API creation, we can easily produce APIs that can be successfully used for creation of interesting interfaces.
I propose a hack-a-thon where we would discuss as a group API design, issues to be concerned of when exposing your data, and then put together simple APIs that would allow easy data access. This might be even more useful when combined with others who have knowledge of creating mashups so we can quickly see what an open-API allows us.