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Morning 1 of Gluecon

I was just looking at the agenda for morning 1 of Glue, and check this out -- between 8:45 and 12:30, here's what we'll be covering: We'll begin by talking about Google Apps and their relation to the Glue universe (still confirming the exact speaker on this); then we hear from Josh Elman of Facebook's platform group about how they're opening up in this space; next up is the topic of "web oriented architecture" (via Aaron Fulkerson); then Peter Coffee, director of platform research at Salesforce.com on Platforms as a service; then we dive into internet identity with Andre Durand (of Ping Identity); then into data portability in a web app world (Eric Marcoullier of Gnip); and finally we end with an hour of open space/unconference time for everyone to discuss and digest the content gauntlet we've collectively just ran. All of this - before lunch! Google apps, Facebook platforms, WOA, force.com, internet identity and data portability -- in 3 hrs flat! Yea, it's gonna be a brain-blower... ...and we haven't even gotten to the afternoon of day 1. This is gonna rock (if I do say so myself). ;-)

Sticky platforms

This blog post about Leo Laporte's strained relationship with Twitter has me thinking this morning. The post outlines the "dangers" of twitter (using the front men of Laporte and Dave Winer) as a "closed" or "centralized" system. Now, as a twitter user (and fan), I completely get the closed and centralized argument, but I think it's a bit off. Since time immemorial, techies have talked about "lock-in," specifically the dangers of lock-in when it comes to platforms. Microsoft's past predatory behavior probably didn't help much, but I do think a lot of things have changed. These days platforms are expected to have APIs and to allow for some level of data portability. Those that don't are quickly ridiculed and often shamed into changing (at least somewhat). We can argue about whether Twitter is "too closed," but what we can't argue is that Twitter is a modern day version of the "walled garden" (circa AOL). We can't even argue that about Facebook. The old walled gardens were just that -- walled. As in closed. As in, you ain't getting an app in or info out until you have 7 meetings with our biz dev guy. [Later: a friend reminds me that the "7 meetings with a biz dev guy" practice is currently how LinkedIn operates, thus making LinkedIn the new AOL.] That's just not the case anymore. And the debate should change accordingly. It's no longer a matter of open or closed. It's a matter of how open (closed is off the table as an option). And once you enter the realm of "how open," you've now firmly stepped into the topical topography of Glue. Gluecon is really all about how open. Platforms can "get sticky." So can architectures (WOA vs. SOA) and clouds. The question is to what extent and through what mechanisms.The way we talk about these problems matters. Getting stuck in the "open vs. closed" platform debate just keeps us going in circles in 1998. To advance things we need to be hammering away at the "hows and whys" of making platforms, clouds and architectures sticky -- where "sticky" may mean interoperable, integrated, federated, whatever. Returning to the Laporte post, can we put the Twitter pandora back in the box? I doubt it (sorry laconica). But we can begin talking through the glue of platforms.All of which begs the logical question: what platform (and underlying cloud) discussions will we be having at Gluecon? Short answer: plenty (and note to vendors: we will discuss your platforms whether you're there or not - sorry). Long answer: Facebook, Salesforce.com, Azure (and the Geneva toolset), Twitter, Google, and even just the good ole interweb itself. Come help us move the discussion forward.

Some thoughts on value

I confess, I've never set out to be "the low cost leader" of conference producers. My personal sweet spot has always been higher-end events that, frankly, cost more to produce (and therefore cost more to attend). But when I first began to envision Glue, I knew it needed to be something different. Not that Glue wouldn't have all of the "infrastructure" things a good conference needs (wifi, food, A/V), but rather, that we were gonna cut some "frills" and bring the price tag down. My reason for thinking this was simple: I want code junkies, alpha geeks, startup guys to come to Glue. I also want the enterprise developer with no travel budget to be able to afford it. So, I knew (especially because I'm not an idiot, and knew some rough economic times were ahead) I had to get things into a price range that made "sense." Next step: what makes "sense?" Here's what I came to -- if I'm traveling to Glue, I'm figuring I can "do Gluecon" for about $1200. That's all-in -- airfare, hotel, registration and miscellaneous costs [airfare: ~$300; hotel: ~$400; glue registration: ~400 and $100 for cabs, etc]. And by "all-in," I mean all-in. If you sign up for a pre-conference dinner, your food the night before the conference starts is paid for, then your meals are covered through day 1 and 2 (with the exception of dinner day 1), then you're out. Okay - maybe if you have an extra beer or two with dinner, it's $1300 not $1200 -- but still... Then I compared the "Glue value" to --oh, let's say a large IT expo that has a cloud computing focus. What's it cost to walk in the door (minimum)? $1590. That's no airfare, no hotel, no anything -- $1590. Do I mean it when I say that Glue is the best tech conference "value" out there this spring? Hell yes. (Oh by the way, if you're in the Denver-Boulder, then the numbers are even better -- obviously.) So, back to my original point: Was my intent with Glue to be the "low cost leader?" Absolutely not. My intent with Glue was to put on an amazing event with a great agenda and wonderful people. And I think it will be that. The fact that you can "do glue" for the price you can do it for should make it a slam dunk decision for folks. And so far, that seems to be true -- as people keep on registering to come to Glue. I hope you'll join us. P.S. If you're looking to get the registration price down to $400, just follow me on twitter and you'll see codes fly by.

Exploding myths #1: The Cloud is "easy"

Partner-in-crime Brad Feld has an interesting post up today entitled, "Cloud Computing Streak Marks." The post's impetus was some communication Brad received talking about how the "cloud" was going to be so easy "his mom could do it." The punchline:
Oh, and my mother is really smart, but I’m betting that “The solution is to override the base64encoder and set the authorization property manually OR potentially use the Apache Http client rather than the built-in JDK client” doesn’t mean much to her.
Brad couldn't be more right. As I look at the Glue agenda, I'm struck by just how difficult it is to make all of this stuff be easy. And that's really the point: the goal of the cloud is to be easy, but achieving that goal probably means 5-7 years (YEARS!) of really hard stuff. JDKs, JSON, XMPP, WOA, REST, SAML, OAuth, XRD, and SimpleDB aren't easy (even if you know what the hell that all means)! Fortunately, <registration pitch> we're assembling a bunch of incredibly smart folks for you to talk with, work with, build with and chill with at Glue - so register today </registration pitch>. ;-)

Weekend special

If you're reading this blog on a Friday, we've got a weekend special for you. Just use the code "wknd1" and return the current Gluecon price of $495 down to $395 (or early bird levels). But don't wait too long, as the code is only good for the next 10 registrations.

Why I love twitter

Why do I love twitter? Because by following me on twitter, you can get to know a bunch of my stupid idiosyncrasies (and vice versa). ;-) Follow @gluecon for "official updates" and @defrag if you feel like watching jeff nolan tease me about the possibility of spilling margaritas on a kindle 2.

Glue's pre-conference dinners

One of highlights of last year's Defrag conference was the "pre-conference dinner" that Microsoft put on. Basically, the night before Defrag started, Microsoft took 25 people out for a meal to discuss the topic of "next generation email." By all accounts, it was a great, intimate way to get to know some of your conference mates *prior* to "starting" the conference. It worked so well that we're doing 4 pre-conference dinners for Glue. We're still ironing out exactly what the topics will be, but you can get a sense of that via the sponsors of the dinners: Gist, Microsoft Startup Zone, TripleTree, and Freepository.  The format is simple -- dinner and conversation with like-minded folks (though I am, admittedly, pushing 1 of the sponsors to go for some pre-conference bowling). One of the things we try to do with both Glue and Defrag is to facilitate really intimate and in-depth conversations. Forget the passing five minutes in an expo hall (with the din of voices echoing off of the cement floor); let's dig in and really talk about something of importance. You're probably wondering how you can get into this kind of setting, right? Easy: 1) register for Glue and then 2) wait for the email we'll send out prior to the event asking you which dinner you'd like to attend. Please note: we do limit each dinner to 25 people, so you'll want to watch things carefully (last year's Defrag dinner "sold out" faster than a Hannah Montana concert). That said, if you're already registered, and you think you know which dinner you'll roughly be interested in, just drop me a note. Either way, make sure that you register and take advantage of the ability to foster real relationships via in-depth conversations.

The things you can learn at Glue

I've been working on an agenda update, and in doing so, I found myself re-discovering all of the things that I can learn about a Glue. Here's a partial list:
How Facebook is opening up their platform Why REST is the foundation for web oriented architecture Where identity is heading, and why it has to NOT be about identity What SAML is How OpenID and OAuth are changing the way you build out services on the web Where I can implement data portability How I can begin thinking about integration in a post-cloud world How I can secure cloud infrastructure Why I should be thinking about web apps in terms of complex event processing How I can build a perimeter-less organization using Microsoft's Geneva beta How I can do the same thing using open source tools What the role of XMPP is when you're building out web apps Why I need to think about relational databases and the cloud What I can use to glue together data across apps and networks What "webhooks" are and why that matters How to manage and leverage my API How to build a "context aware" service Why I'd want to use edge-side includes How I can use XRDS Where I can go to start "gluing together" devices with my data Why I should alter my big picture thinking about innovation
    And that's just a start. Now, is it just me, or...wow? Don't just sit there, come DO SOMETHING.

    Why am I smiling?

    It seems that everywhere we look these days (the stock market, housing, the economy at large), things are rapidly spinning out of control and careening toward chaos. Why, then, am I sitting here on a Friday early morning smiling? Because I know that we'll come out the other side of this, and we'll do so innovating. Howard Lindzon's "too small to fail" phrase rings in my head (like some demented entrepreneurial battle-cry), and my gut just tells me -- in the midst of all of this macro-chaos, there are engineers with their heads down, building something really amazing. We're gathering a bunch of those folks together in May. So, while CNBC, CNN and every other news outlet drowns you in the constant din of "apocalypticism", some of us are quietly going back to work. We won't ask permission. We won't wait for government funds. We certainly don't depend on "the major players" in the tech ecosystem. And we could really care less about 2.0 anything. We do what humans do. We build. We create. We band together and separate apart and get back together in different re-combinations -- all because we're building something. We're acting, not sitting. Moving, not standing still. There's a calm quiet and a sense of joy and playfulness to it all. A little smirk on our faces. A swiftness to our step. You'll know us by our optimism. And in a few years, we'll probably having something really amazing to show you. I hope you'll choose to join us.

    Turning the Titanic

    I spent a few minutes this morning reading Reid Hoffman's piece in the Washington Post. It's kind of what you would expect from a startup/VC editorial - I mean, we're "all" (fred wilson, brad feld, reid hoffman) telling the administration essentially the same thing -- "let's get nimble, remove roadblocks and use incentives" --but Reid's piece also got me thinking. The internet (in the largest sense) really started this giant tsunami of networking together everything; of tying every little piece to every other little piece in some way (weak tie or not). That piece may be data, devices, applications, knowledge, insight, anything -- it doesn't matter -- everything is getting networked. I think in some way that has to account for the "unprecedented" nature of what's happening in our markets.  Things are so "networked" (where things are not only data, but financial instruments) that ripple effects now move across the entire swath of the global economy at a *pace* that has never before been seen. The results are public markets that are unable to process the resulting data (ie, that stop being "predictive" and become almost solely "reactive"), and the near paralysis of private credit and equity mechanisms. All of which begs the question: Is the answer to "un-network" things? To build more "firewalls" into the networking (ie, regulations)? The wisest thing my father ever said to me was: "the only way out is through." And that, I think is the case here as well. We cannot put the networking back in the box. The weird thing is that our networking isn't done yet. In other words, things are networked enough to effect every other thing, but not networked enough to get some of the larger nodes to the place of agility that the smaller nodes live in. Think of it this way: Huge sections of our economy and infrastructure are like the titanic. Even though they can see the iceberg, turning the ship can take a mile. What all of the smart VC-types that I know want to do is turn the economy into a fleet of jet skis that are "loosely coupled" together. Jet skis can resemble a flock of birds in their movement -- that is, they can move as one, in some concerted effort, but they can also adapt far more rapidly than any Titanic could. That idea is what is being advocated for everything form the Big 3 automakers, to banks, to wall street, to spurring innovation and the economy (my favorite phrase is Howard Lindzon's now famous "too small to fail"). And in many ways, that *sense* is what Glue is really about (from a technology/architecture standpoint). Now, to be sure, the ideas of agile programming and iterative models have been around for years. But the reality of moving all applications to the web and achieving the agility of purpose that can bring is still a pipe dream. Glue is focused on that. Forget arguing about whether or not "the cloud will come to pass" -- let the mainstream waste time with that already tired old argument. The real heat of the discussion is about ASSUMING all of that has occurred and moving quickly to talk about interoperability, integration, pervasive context, federated security models, etc. In other words, GET PAST the titanic topics (will cloud succeed?), stop being YACCE (yet another cloud computing event), and start thinking in terms of "loosely coupled jet skis" (yes, I know I've stretched that imagery as far as I can). Am I seeing everything through my own colored glasses? Maybe. But I don't think I'm wrong about the effect of networking everything (on our economy, information, infrastructure), and I don't think I'm wrong about the self-evident nature of the solution (Glue-ish stuff). I hope you'll join us in the discussion.