Have you heard about the glue of the Internet? It is many things. I am the glue of the Internet. You are the glue of the Internet.
IF PHP IS THE GLUE OF THE INTERNET THEN FACEBOOK HAVE BEEN SNIFFING IT PRETTY HARD LATELY HA— PHP CEO (@PHP_CEO) March 25, 2014
I do have a history of noticing cliches. So, when I came upon this one again, I had to etch it in stone for eternity right here on this blog.
Those Sticky, Sticky APIs
I’ve written about APIs for over a decade, so before publishing a post like this, I had to confirm I’ve never called them the glue of the Internet. Google says I haven’t.
I have spoken at GlueCon, a fantastic developer conference that is in its 11th year. If I had to guess, its name is slightly tongue-in-cheek, which shows how long this has been a cliche.
APIs are the glue of the Internet, said Spanish multinational bank BBVA in 2016. More recently, Open Banking initiatives have hammered home its gluey status, as American Banker declared in 2019.
Software testers are often working with black boxes. So, let’s hope the glue dries clear when they’re testing APIs. Because APIs are the glue of the Internet.
They’re also the glue of many other things. APIs have a lot they’re holding together!
That’s a Hard iPaaS
Truth be told, this post was inspired by Integromat, an integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS). I’ll just leave a screenshot of its home page here:
For two years, I worked at Zapier, a competitor that predates Integromat. I may be biased, but I found plenty of examples (this being the oldest) declaring that Zapier is the glue of the Internet.
On the other hand, Zeleo invites you to glue the Internet together.
And, to be fair, TechCrunch declared IFTTT to be the Internet Glue Service in 2014.
The Elmer’s of Protocols
APIs and iPaaS are nothing compared to the series of tubes the Internet is built upon.
BGP is the glue of the Internet, according to a 2012 Cloudflare post recapping Google downtime. Border Gateway Protocol, as it’s known formally, determines Internet routes.
Indeed, network interconnection points are the glue of the Internet, as declared over 20 years ago in an article that also mentions long distance phone services and dial-up Internet.
A little farther up the stack, you bet that HTTP is the glue of the Internet. Or is TCP/IP the glue of the Internet? Or maybe Sendmail and FTP?
Keeping up the Paste
There are so many other things that may be the glue of the Internet, it’s really hard to keep track.
Dan Gilmour said that links are the glue of the Internet. But Rhett Allain said link aggregators are the glue of the Internet. Why not both?
Speaking of memes, another site claimed that memes are the glue of the Internet. I’m not linking the site because it also wanted me to download Flash and then forwarded me to an advertiser’s site before I could cancel it.
But I appreciate the sentiment: with Internet as the glue of our everyday lives, the glue of the Internet should move beyond the technical bits. It’s not just APIs, protocols, and integration tools.
It’s the sorts of stuff that everybody can appreciate. If it’s not memes, maybe photobombs are the glue of the Internet?
Let me know what’s gluing your Internet together.
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