I think most people know that I also run the Defrag conference. We launched Defrag two years ago, and it’s been on a tear ever since. So, I was pretty intrigued the other day when someone sent me a message via Twitter asking that I explain the difference between Defrag and Glue. After a bit of thought, I think the question makes perfect sense — so, here we go (hat tip to the joker):

Defrag was started to really look at the problem set around data fragmentation (information overload?), and how individuals and groups can more effectively and efficiently deal with it. The metaphor I always use to explain Defrag is that of the “brainstorming” session. If you imagine that the internet is really just all of us trying to recreate a brainstorming session, then you can say that we’ve — A) solved the problem of being in the same time (simultaneity); B) solved the problem of being in the same space (co-location) and C) are pretty far down the path of solving knowing who is in the room (identity). What we haven’t done is build any tools that help us to speed up the process of insight (both for individuals or groups). We haven’t found a way to “accelerate the ‘aha’ moment.” That is what Defrag is about. And that “topic” allows us to draw all kinds of intersections between the semantic web, enterprise 2.0, the contextual web, business intelligence, social computing, etc.

Glue has some overlapping topic areas, but really is looking at an entirely different problem-set. Glue says “okay, ASSUME that the cloud has happened, that SaaS is a forgone conclusion and that everyone (both inside and outside of the enterprise) just *knows* that the web is the platform — now what?” That assumption puts us on the fast track of where architect’s and developer’s heads will need to be in a few years time. Suddenly, we’re in the land of web oriented architecture and web application integration (a land of clouds, services, etc) – and the problems are BIG ones. They’re not just interoperability and integration, though those are certainly two huge ones. The problems are also ones of context across web apps, API infrastructure management, data integration (mashups), etc. Where Defrag is very “strategic” in it’s focusing, Glue immediately wants to get “down in the trenches” of what clouds, web apps and web architecture really means.

As I look at the agenda for Glue, I’m seeing things come together around XMPP’s role in the future of architecture, Edge side includes that happen *below* the browser (andy morgan’s session), how Best Buy is managing API infrastructure with their Remix launch (kevin matheny from best buy), what it means to have users “co-create” lenses for data (brian oberkirch), how you can build contextually-aware applications using identity (phil windley) — ie, REALLY cool, meaty topics that either A) matter to developers and architects right now, or B) will matter to them in the near future.

One other note: Glue is meant to be much more “workshop-y.” The content is split a bit more (3 wide sessions vs. largely 1 room for Defrag), more “open space” time, more focus on “code on the screen” in some breakout workshops. We’re even working on bringing a Facebook Developer’s Garage hack session to sit along side of Glue (shhh – don’t tell anyone – that’s a secret).

So, is there some topic overlap between Glue and Defrag? Yeah – a little. But really, they’re pretty different events. Different problem-sets, different structures, different people — same great experience, location, logistics, etc.I’m getting excited just writing about it – and I’ll be publishing a new agenda soon too, so be sure to look for that. In the meantime, don’t delay, register today. I’m not ashamed to say that at the price for attending Glue ($395 for 2 FULL days of conference experience), you will not be disappointed (heck, there are some unconferences charging nearly as much as we are, and we’ll have better amenities). Here’s a bonus – use “early1” for an additional $50 off.

update: I’m VERY pleased to announce that Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus Development Corporation, founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, chairperson of the Mozilla Foundation, and founder of the Open Source Applications Foundation, has signed on to keynote Glue.