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Last Chance!

It is really quite simple: Register by 5pm Mountain Standard Time today using the code "en1" and Glue costs $395. Register at 5:01pm MST tonight and it costs $495. Register on site (tuesday) and it costs $595. All of which is to say that you should register today. ;-)

Need a roomie? How about a free meal?

Things are definitely picking up in pace around here, as I watch the weekend slip away into endless details and headed to Denver for Glue. 2 things of note this morning: 1. If you need a roomie, I've got a moderator (male) who's looking to split the hotel room cost. Email me ( and I'll get the two of you connected. 2. If you need a free meal, I've got your hook-up there as well. We've still got a few spots left for the Microsoft-sponsored "Re-imagining IT in 2015" - hosted by Dave Drach of Microsoft Startup Zone. Great conversation, cool people and a free meal the night before Gluecon beings. Just register and shoot me an email saying you're in, and you're in. Meanwhile, my insomnia has kicked in (I always get insomnia before a conference), and my brain seems to be on this continual playback loop of "more human than human" by White Zombie. Oh well.  See you at Gluecon. ;-)

2 Glue notes and the chance to go flying!

3 quick notes today: 1. All discount codes end on Friday, May 8th at 5pm Mountain Standard Time. No exceptions. Get your butt in the door now - use "en1" and save yourself $200 bucks! 2. You cannot transfer your registration on site (i.e., show up and say, "I'm using Joe Smith's registration"). If you need to transfer a registration, you need to let us know by Friday, May 8th. 3. And finally (and this is just cool) -- the next person to register will win a free 20 minute flight in a 2 seat, open cockpit plane around the Front Range (note: you must be under 180lbs and 6 ft to fit in the plane).  Name another tech conference that gives away flights in cool, experimental aircraft!


7 days to Gluecon, and 7 reasons that you should come: 1. Things are improving and Glue is where real innovation lies: This one's easy -- anecdotal though it all may be, myself and a bunch of other folks are starting to pile up some evidence that things are improving. Get in now. And don't just get in on every tired, old, washed out trend kicking around the Valley -- get your butt to Glue and see what's really up. 2. The Wifi is gonna rock: Two things that conference organizers consistently screw-up -- wifi and power-strips (lack of). We don't make those mistakes. 3. The Agenda: This one is actually about 4,322 reasons, but I've collapsed it into 1. 4. You'll get to meet the brains behind Glue: No, not me -- my wife! Kim works the registration desk and handles every last detail of the conference. When you're saying, "this food is actually good" - go thank my wife. 5. You might just change your whole life: Gist announced their Series A today. They met the Foundry Group guys at last year's Defrag. I always watch for these kinds of indicators with our conferences --- little signs that significant things are starting to happen in and around the conferences. Bottom line: coming may put you in the right place at the right time. 6. The Pre-conference dinners: We've got 3 sponsored pre-conference dinners around 3 great topics - Cloud Computing; Who will own your identity and why?; Re-imagining IT in 2015. Wanna hang out on the 11th of May at 7pm with 25 awesome people (and get a good meal out of it)? Come to Glue. Spots go quickly and it's first come, first served (the "general invite" email goes out to the full conference registration list Thursday morning). 7. The topic matters: Whether you're working on the cloud, identity, pervasive context, data portability, web oriented architecture - most startups today are working on something that involves "Glue." Why not hang with like-minded folks and learn something? -- all for $395 (ie, CHEAP). Register today -- waiting only makes the price go up. Not coming only makes your post-Glue regret go up.

Gluecon's coming (and discounts are ending)

We're 8 days from Glue - which, when I stop and think about it, is kind of amazing. "They" threw the worst economy in 50 years at us, and it didn't stop us. They threw some odd flu at us, and that didn't stop us. So, what happens in 8 days? We'll be gathering an amazing group of people together in Denver, Colorado -- outside of the Valley, outside of mainstream expectations, and SQUARE in the middle of real innovation. If you're not planning to join us, well - I dunno what to say. If you are planning to join us, TAKE NOTE: discounts are ending this Friday. If you've got a discount code, you'd better use it (and quick) -- because if you show up on site to register, you'll be paying $200 more than you will on this Friday (no exceptions). You might wonder why that is - it's really quite simple: our planning costs go up after a certain date (and that date is Friday). So, get in gear, use a discount code ("en1"), take $100 off of the current price and REGISTER NOW. See you at Glue! ;-)

An Important Indicator?

Phil Becker has been my partner in crime around conferences since 2002. In that time, Phil and I have shared endless conversations around the "cycles" that occur in the technology world (economically, developmentally, innovation-wise, etc). The other day, Phil and I were discussing the recent announcement by Eucalyptus Systems (a 5.5mm Series A), and pondering the significance of it all. Our thesis is this: Historically, truly significant periods of innovation in the world of modern information technology can be marked by some technology research work moving out of the world of pure research (be it academic or govnerment-driven) and into the world of commercial technology.  The examples (and these are just a couple) are not insignificant: 1. BSD-Unix: This history is a who's who of open source operating systems.  From the early beginnings of PDP-11, to the 1982 departure of Bill Joy (from Berkeley) to start Sun Microsystems, BSD marks a HUGELY significant innovation cycle in technology. 2. Mosaic:  Similarly, the development of the Mosaic browser (building on FTP, Usenet and Gopher) reads like a who's who of the founding of the world wide web. Marc Andreesen's move from the University to the founding of Netscape (and Netscape Navigator) may be the most significant technology development of our lifetimes. 3. Google:  The movement of the google search algorithm out of Stanford and into the commercial world is well documented, and certainly backs up our thesis. There are, of course, other examples (hell, you could argue Facebook fits this profile), but these serve as a good foundation. Now take a look at Eucalyptus.  Eucalyptus is now moving out of UC-Santa Barbara and into the commercial realm. In ALL of our analogies, this move marks the beginning of a very serious period of innovation in the tech world. Is the Eucalyptus move that significant? We can't know yet. But I'd argue that the thesis certainly bears watching. And, if we're right, then the open innovation field that Glue is seeking to explore sits on the cusp of something amazing. Perhaps I'm over-inflating things. But, perhaps not. Join us and help me figure this out.

A conference is about community

I've been watching with interest a great series of posts over on Pamela Dingle's blog. It all began when Pamela tried to get a blogger pass for the RSA conference. What really caught my eye, though, was James McGovern's response - specifically, "Achieving the goal of educating attendees is never the goal of those who run conferences." [sidenote: I OBJECT your honor!] Pamela, then responded to James with the very sensible point that it is all about attendees (I agree). And, finally, the RSA representative came back with some idiotic excuse about page views and technorati rankings. I've said all of this before, so forgive me for droning on, but... 1. Start by distinguishing between trade-shows and conferences. RSA is a trade show. Glue is a conference. Trade-shows (it is correct) get the huge majority of their revenue from the "expo" portion (i.e., vendors) - and, therefore, tend to view the vendor as their customer (if even subconsciously). Conferences, on the other hand, have a revenue stream that is more evenly split. And, therefore, have a choice... 2. A *badly* run conference doesn't understand that the attendees are the customer. A *badly* run conference mistakes sponsors (vendors) as customers, not realizing that without attendees you have NOTHING. 3. A well-run conference knows that your primary job is to make attendees happy. So, sorry James, there are some of us that have a goal of education of attendees (though your sweeping generalizations sure are incendiary). 4. A well-run conference focuses on quality over quantity. I've said it before and I'll say it again - if (you're a vendor and) you want 1000 "leads" go to the web 2.0 expo. If  (you're an attendee and) you want parties and 6-wide breakout sessions, head to RSA. If on the other hand, you want quality conversations that can evolve over a two day span, find a well-run conference. 5. Conferences are about community. Community is about a shared concern or mission. Smart vendors get involved in that mission because they know it will increase their sales over the long run. At the end of the day, it is a tough thing to run a conference well. It takes a lot of care, a lot of work and a nice heaping teaspoon of "luck" (good fortune, whatever). But most all, it takes attendees that CARE about the topic, and in turn, the conference. Even if that core group is only 15 or 20 people -- over time those 15 or 20 people --talking, thinking, building-- will help attract the right folks, and real innovation can occur. And no, you'll never get that at a trade-show.

A snapshot of the glue crowd

Right around this time, I like to take a quick snapshot of the "crowd" assembling for a conference. Glue's no different -- and the folks coming look fantastic. From places like: AdMeld Alsop Louie Partners Avaya Best Buy Citizen Sports Cloud Ave Cloud Security Alliance Denver Art Museum Devver Facebook Filtrbox Inc FreshBooks Gartner Guidewire Group IntelliWare Systems Internet Broadcasting Intuit Inc. Los Alamos Nat'l Lab Research Library Massachusetts Institue of Technology Meritage Funds NASA Ames Network World NeuStar Paypal Symantec Corporatiion SynapticHealth Union Square Ventures UserSphere Research Yahoo! Inc. Typically, the titles are lining up in the Sr. Director/VP range for the larger companies and CTO's for the startups. Glue's gonna be a blast. Don't miss out, use "en1" to receive $100 off of the registration price (bringing it down to $395).

Econo-marketing-sticky thoughts

Some random notes for Glue this morning: 1. I've been emailing with Brad a bit this morning about what "feels" like a change in the economy.  We're in agreement that something is changing. I've spoken with dozens of tech companies in the last 3 weeks (all from different sub-sectors), and almost to a company, they report an increase in "activity" as of late. Combine that with the obvious increase in M&A (oracle/sun, broadcom/emulex, symantec/mi5), and it's not hard to think that a change is occurring. Is it THE bottom? No one's that smart. But something is definitely different. 2. Louis Gray posted some great thoughts about tech trade show attendance, wherein he argues that attendance may be down, but quality is up. Tech marketers can RADICALLY improve their "lead performance" with regard to event marketing if they'll simply do a few things: First, measure "lead quality" based on the amount of dollars that comes from a lead (versus measuring "cost per lead" -- which exaggerates the importance of quantity and completely ignores quality); Second, distinguish between "trade shows" and "conferences" - and realize that trade shows tend to offer great quantity of leads, while conferences tend to offer greater quality of leads; Third, dial down trade show participation in slower economic times and dial UP conference participation (ie, when the economy slows, focus on quality of lead; when it speeds back up, layer in quantity of leads). If you're a tech marketer and you just do those 3 things, you'll spend less and make more. 3. Add it up: the economy is getting better and you should really be at conferences = get your butt to Glue! And remember, use those discount codes now, as they're absolutely worthless for on-site registration. You'll save yourself $200 bucks (400 vs. 600) by just registering now.

The Story Arc of Gluecon

If you talk to me long enough, you'll hear me use the words "story arc" with regards to a conference. As if, somehow I'm "writing" actors into a drama that has an underlying tension, an arc and a resolution. Of course, that's not the case. In truth, though, I do spend a considerable amount of time thinking through "the story" that we're telling at a conference. By that I mean, I look at what sessions are where, get a sense of the topic spread, and try to arrange things where -- as people walk through the story, there's some sense of cohesion at the end. Silly, right? Let's take a look at Glue. The earliest beginnings of the Glue story start in the prequel -- Defrag.  I had been reading Brad's blog, and saw him writing about a theme he was calling (at the time) "intelligence amplification." A couple of conversations later, Defrag was born -- where the premise of Defrag was that the fragmentation of data online was creating a need for tools that helped individuals and groups accelerate the process of insight (hence, Defrag's tagline -- "accelerating the 'aha' moment"). Fast forward: After a successful initial Defrag event, I kind of looked at Brad and said, "what else are you smart guys thinking about?" He came back with this idea of "glue" -- roughly, the idea that there were going to develop all of these different kinds of tools/services that sought to "glue together" things happening between web applications. I immediately flashed to the enterprise application integration problem of the late 90's/early 00's, and we began brainstorming (publicly) ideas around what constituted "glue."  We knew it would deal with web platforms, but what I don't think either of us really knew then (or even know now) was the sheer size of it all. [note: maybe Brad and Seth did, but I certainly wasn't aware.] With that context, take a gander at the agenda. The story begins with a point of tension; what is seen by many as a brand new "stovepipe" -- Facebook. Facebook serves to open the discussion because it brings into contrast a lot of the big threads: Is it open or closed? How does integration occur? Where does identity fit? What about transferring context from Facebook to other "applications?" Can I build on this platform, or do I lock myself in? The session itself will have Facebook providing their answers, but the real "push" from it should be a whole lotta questions (hat tip to Zeppelin). From that high ground, the story begins to draw out the "characters" in our little drama: web oriented architecture, identity, data portability and services, platforms, etc. And we do it rapidly -- you're not going to "know" the "characters" --- you're just going to meet them. And then we pause (any good story has a nice set-up pause after the opening scenes), and ask "what are we missing?" That's where you come in. After a break for discussion, we bring in another component of the big themes - social glue for business processes and data. And then we're off the races -- breakouts. The breakouts are meant to begin answering questions (or, even better, begin forming new and more in-depth questions) - and there's plenty to choose from. Your individual path through the story could have you exploring data portability, or OAuth, or cloud infrastructure, or platforms, or XMPP -- but, as with all good interactive (ie, non-linear) stories - you must make choices. Those choices bring different questions your way. At the end of day 1, the story comes to it's midpoint, as we talk about one of the big "archetypal" themes: how to harness the cloud. And then we get intermission -- where intermission is the chance to catch your breath, have a laugh, dive in more deeply, and get some sleep. Day 2 begins, and you'd think you'll be thrust right back into the plot, but we're not done introducing big themes. Mitch Kapor will look out past the current confines of the story; to remind you that what we talk about in this story isn't the story itself. And Phil Wainewright will give you a larger sense of the themes (a reset for the day, if you will). Then it's back in the mix. The breakouts on day 2 are even more varied, with new technologies, ideas and protocols: cloud databases, web hooks, event processing across web apps, context aware services, social networking, XRDS, etc. Yep, we're building tension. We coalesce again around the leveraging of APIs, dive more deeply into cloud infrastructure, hit on identity one more time, and close with a high-level discussion of what kinds of platforms open up innovation (versus closing it down). As with any good story, there will be a sequel. After all, we haven't really resolved anything --we've just fostered some emotional and intellectual attachment to the characters involved. And, most importantly, we've found out that the truly critical characters in the story are the participants at the conference (i.e., you). One important thing to note about a new "story" like Glue: With Defrag, you'll see that after two years, I can pretty succinctly tell you what our overall theme is ("the fragmentation of data online is creating a need for tools that helped individuals and groups accelerate the process of insight"), while I can't do that with Glue. That's the beauty of coming to a new conference when it's young, and growing up with it. You get to build out that theme with everyone else there. Three years from now, I'll sum up Glue in a sentence, and we'll all nod and say, "yep, that was obvious." But it wasn't. Nothing was obvious until we gathered, argued, pushed, pulled, laughed and collectively wrote a story. And if you don't come, the story gets written without you. Ahhhh.....I love the smell of Gluecon in the morning. ;-)