If you’ve been following along at home, we began thinking about this year’s Defrag in terms of “bigger networks of smaller things,” where the properties of these networks were that they were distributed, interconnected and fractal. I think we can see this theme tying together a pretty wide swath of what’s happening in tech these days.

Cloud Computing is decentralizing (distributing) IT resources out of the physical IT department, and over time becoming more interconnected (federated?) and fractal. APIs are creating networks of software that are both bigger (in size) and smaller (in the scope of what can be utilized via API calls). Mobile is exploding into bigger networks of smaller things (people, devices, apps, chipsets). And big data is this emergent quality happening as we more fully understand, make searchable (knowable?), and move through these bigger networks of smaller things.

Outside of those easily recognizable topical areas (cloud, APIs, mobile, big data), I’m getting evermore fascinated by the bigger networks of smaller things that we’re making in the physical world. Call it what you will — the internet of things, wearable computing, connected devices — we’re using hardware to deploy software in such a way that we’re literally layering software on top of the world.

I’m thinking here of drones that stream images (or use software) in various operations. Devices that quantify minuscule bits of health, personal data and productivity. Augmented reality devices that seek to bring a digital world and mix it with a physical space. Robots that use software to physically manipulate a world that has previously largely been manipulated only by human hands. We’re automating, digitizing and roboticizing (ok, that’s not a word) the hard stuff and meatspace of the actual physical world. We’re making bigger networks of smaller things from the world that we move through every day. Networks of devices, wearables, drones, robots layering software and big data analytics on to our experiences in real-time and time-delayed (even recursive) ways. And, of course, the more the bigger networks of smaller things in the cloud, API and mobile areas grows, the more leverage they provide to the bigger networks of smaller things in the software-layered physical world area.

So, will you hear about drones and wearables and augmented reality and robots at Defrag right alongside APIs and cloud and mobile and big data? Oh yea. And, with any luck, it’ll all just seem to weirdly…..fit.

I hope you’ll join us.