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.