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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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The Glue That Binds Things

Comments (12)

The massive proliferation of web services, their corresponding APIs, and the notion that "the web is the platform" has caused me to spend a lot of time in what I call "horizontal land."  This is a special place where software that nits everything together (sometimes nicely, sometimes not so nicely) lives.  Our RSS theme and corresponding investments (FeedBurner, NewsGator, and Technorati) arose from one aspect of this problem.

Shortly after I started thinking about the implicit web several years ago I hooked up with Eric Norlin.  We bounced a bunch of thoughts around and Eric proposed the idea for what became the Defrag Conference.   We had the first one in 2007 – I thought it was superb as did a bunch of other people.  As a result, we are doing it again in 2008.

As Eric and I were debriefing on the 2007 conference, we realized that there was an interesting layer that we didn’t really address at Defrag.  We started calling this layer Glue – some examples follow:

  • Marketing Glue: the abstraction of the management of ad platforms into a common interface
  • Enterprise Glue: a "rest-ful" service oriented architecture via mashups and RSS
  • Social Network Glue: the movement toward cross-network interoperability and data sharing
  • Interface Glue: cross-platform, cross-browser technologies like Silverlight and Apollo
  • Messaging Glue: tools that are evolving for meta-messaging
  • Identity Glue: reputation, user-centric identity and web single signon

We are now working on how to integrate Glue into our thinking – either as an extension of Defrag or as a second conference.  If you have ideas or want to be involved in helping us think this through, please comment or email

  • John Pritchard

    Brad,

    How does this Glue compare to Yahoo Pipes? (Thinking classic glue as scripting over components like shell or tcl).

    John

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      Yahoo Pipes would address some of this – probably best classified in the “Enterprise Glue” category although a lot of the mashup stuff might be “consumer glue” which is less interesting to me right now (but probably equally relevant.)

      • John Pritchard

        you're looking at API schema convergence//?

        • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

          Yup.

  • esteban

    where can I find the API?
    http://www.spymac.com/details/?2315603

  • http://davidduey.typepad.com David Duey

    One of the things I really liked about Defrag was that, for the most part, it was free of implementation details. I’m a techie, but I enjoy thinking about the implicit web at a higher level than the implementation layer. I like the idea of the Glue theme, but I’m afraid if Defrag were extended to include Glue, that it might risk becoming a technical conference and thus diluting the deep thinking abstraction layer with the practical details of implementation.

  • http://trainthoughts.com Paul Edmondson

    Yep. Whether it's called glue or aggregation, this makes sense. One more is navigation. Search, hierarchical browsing, discovery, rss readers – navigating the web is getting more complex because of the continued explosion of content. What we need here is really good spam retardant glue.

  • http://ceppi.blogs.com Chris Ceppi

    The issues around who controls where “Glue” can stick things together and where it can't will be important. Beacon being an example of a potentially valuable piece of glue that became a gluey mess.

  • NasserO

    Great thoughts! Amongst the list of “Glues”, the “Identity Glue” is the most intriguing as it has vast implications and applications. Whether you are driving, watching TV or walking your dog, you are almost always connected via your cell phone, your car’s GPS, your laptop, your TV set and even your early morning radio-clock. All these devices (if modified) can use a unified and globally identical individual ID and sense your presence almost anywhere on the globe. There are surely a bunch of privacy issues to handle but as a small implication think of this; while you are watching your favorite baseball match on the TV in Denver, a small subtitle message at the foot of the TV screen asks you to approve a credit card transaction request from a BestBuy outlet in Philadelphia. Oh My!

  • http://www.scrollinondubs.com Sean Tierney

    Brad, how about one more:

    Deployment Glue: an OS-agnostic runtime that allows software of any composition (Ruby, Java, PHP, .NET, Python, C++) to deploy immediately and portably across any environment whether hosted locally or remotely? A living container delivers updates to the application stack and developers stop worrying about installation and maintenance concerns and are instead free to concentrate on the features that make the app uniquely valuable. Customers appreciate an identical deployment experience across every app regardless of the developer's choice of technology toolset.

    sean

    • http://www.defragcon.com eric norlin

      Sean- a truly interesting idea! I'm adding it to the “list of glue” topics that we're currently exploring.

      btw: this sounds like s startup idea ;-)

  • http://www.maggieyeh.com Maggie

    Great to see that you guys are thinking about this “glue” layer. My work focuses on supporting and building APIs for the marketing glue and it surprises me how often we need to educate people on why this is important and necessary for innovation.

  • John Pritchard

    Brad,

    How does this Glue compare to Yahoo Pipes? (Thinking classic glue as scripting over components like shell or tcl).

    John

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    Yahoo Pipes would address some of this – probably best classified in the "Enterprise Glue" category although a lot of the mashup stuff might be "consumer glue" which is less interesting to me right now (but probably equally relevant.)

  • Chris Ceppi

    The issues around who controls where "Glue" can stick things together and where it can't will be important. Beacon being an example of a potentially valuable piece of glue that became a gluey mess.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/john_pritch3900 john_pritch3900

    you're looking at API schema convergence//?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    Yup.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/david_duey david_duey

    One of the things I really liked about Defrag was that, for the most part, it was free of implementation details. I’m a techie, but I enjoy thinking about the implicit web at a higher level than the implementation layer. I like the idea of the Glue theme, but I’m afraid if Defrag were extended to include Glue, that it might risk becoming a technical conference and thus diluting the deep thinking abstraction layer with the practical details of implementation.

  • Paul Edmondson

    Yep. Whether it's called glue or aggregation, this makes sense. One more is navigation. Search, hierarchical browsing, discovery, rss readers – navigating the web is getting more complex because of the continued explosion of content. What we need here is really good spam retardant glue.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/esteban3905 esteban3905

    where can I find the API?
    http://www.spymac.com/details/?2315603

  • NasserO

    Great thoughts! Amongst the list of “Glues”, the “Identity Glue” is the most intriguing as it has vast implications and applications. Whether you are driving, watching TV or walking your dog, you are almost always connected via your cell phone, your car’s GPS, your laptop, your TV set and even your early morning radio-clock. All these devices (if modified) can use a unified and globally identical individual ID and sense your presence almost anywhere on the globe. There are surely a bunch of privacy issues to handle but as a small implication think of this; while you are watching your favorite baseball match on the TV in Denver, a small subtitle message at the foot of the TV screen asks you to approve a credit card transaction request from a BestBuy outlet in Philadelphia. Oh My!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/sean_tierne2149 sean_tierne2149

    Brad, how about one more:

    Deployment Glue: an OS-agnostic runtime that allows software of any composition (Ruby, Java, PHP, .NET, Python, C++) to deploy immediately and portably across any environment whether hosted locally or remotely? A living container delivers updates to the application stack and developers stop worrying about installation and maintenance concerns and are instead free to concentrate on the features that make the app uniquely valuable. Customers appreciate an identical deployment experience across every app regardless of the developer's choice of technology toolset.

    sean

  • eric norlin

    Sean- a truly interesting idea! I'm adding it to the "list of glue" topics that we're currently exploring.

    btw: this sounds like s startup idea ;-)

  • Maggie

    Great to see that you guys are thinking about this "glue" layer. My work focuses on supporting and building APIs for the marketing glue and it surprises me how often we need to educate people on why this is important and necessary for innovation.

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