Writings and Musings

Bob Frankston (bio)

Welcome to my writings.

If you want the recent essays check out the sidebar on the left or, better, go to Further Readings for a curated list of essays.

Other essays are listed in chronological order and then by category. The main essays are in larger letters and minor documents (such as messages posted on discussion sites) are indented and in smaller letters. The documents themselves are located on this site (www.Frankston.com) and as well as external sites.

Note that I'm currently writing shorter transient posts on Facebook as "Bob Frankston". I'm gathering links here.

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The best way to link to a document is as http://rmf.vc/keyword.

By default only the most recent posts are shown, to see:
Recent By Date Posts from the last few months
Columns Columns written in 1998-1999 -- blogging before blogs. Look here for my more recent columns.
All All posts -- hundreds

Writings and Updates by Date

Some of the recent entries are also listed on the sidebar. Secondary items such as postings on other mailing lists are indented. Note that the year shown is the year the essay was updated. An essay written in 1979 might be listed under 2009 if it was updated recently.

Life (yet to be) Scripted 01-Jan-2014 (Updated: 21-Oct-2017 PDFThe goal of "home automation" seems to write rules to control our homes (and our lives) as if we were setting rules for a very smart butler. But the real world is more complicated and computers aren't omniscient butlers who can read our minds and anticipate every eventuality.
What infrastructure is needed for positively disruptive technology 30-Nov-2014 (Updated: 20-Jan-2015 PDF 📹 (video) The talk I gave to ISOCNY November 11 2014 aimed at helping policymakers revisit their "givens".
Silicon Valley's Mirror Effect - The New Meritocracy 27-Dec-2014 The rise of the meritocracy risks policies based on the hindsight bias.
Trying to talk about the future using the vocabulary of the past 21-Nov-2014 It is very difficult to talk about connectivity policy when the very vocabulary implicitly assumes the 19th framing of telecommunications.
Re: The Creepy New Wave of the Internet 17-Nov-2014 There is a tendency to project our world views on the Internet. To some it is a way to centralize power and control. But the origins of the Internet are just the opposite -- something that emerged from our ability to use computing to create our own solutions.
Community Broadband Podcast 03-Nov-2014 “In this episode, we talk a lot about how to think about what he terms "connectivity" rather than telecommunications. Telecommunications are a train track - the network owner determines when to move the trains and at what capacity. Our goal for networks is more akin to the roads, where we have more capacity to move around and pick our own routes on our own schedule”
Beyond Neutrality - Enabling a World of Connected Things 24-Oct-2014 PDF 📹 (video) The Internet is about much more than accessing web sites. Today we have "Things" that are using the Internet to connect with each other and things need more than "access" -- they need unfettered (borderless) connectivity.
Connected Things 01-Oct-2014 PDFThe power of the Internet comes from our ability to build connected applications. We use the term “Internet of Things” to extend this concept beyond computation to include the objects in the physical world.
There are far more fundamental changes coming to discoverability 28-Sep-2014 As the Internet evolves it will be difficult to track what is happening as a byproduct of decentralization.
Re AT&T and Verizon defend data caps on home Internet service 23-Sep-2014 Again with the caps that don't apply to the carriers' own content.
Science’s Sexual Assault Problem 21-Sep-2014 This story of scientists faced with harassment (and worse) makes me think of my mother's experience in trying to get her PhD in geology in the 1930's.
Verizon's mañana policy - I now have a zero gigabit connection 13-Sep-2014 Connectivity is not a luxury so we do we have public policies that leave us disconnected for days?
Re Powers that be Buy Influence at Think Tanks 08-Sep-2014 We should worry when research is considered a product rather than an effort to broaden our understanding.
Two Cities With Blazing Internet Speed Search for a Killer App 06-Sep-2014 Another reminder why speed is the wrong focus for connectivity policy.
The Building Blocks of IoT: Borderless Connectivity and Generic Computing Devices 22-Feb-2014 (Updated: 01-Sep-2014 📹 (video) This is the talk I gave at the Internet of Things Festival in Cambridge February 22nd, 2014
QoS -- the Intelligent network redux 30-Aug-2014 The idea that you can make promises in the network (QoS) is a retreat from the Internet and innovation outside the network.
Time Warner Cable Internet Outage Affects Millions 28-Aug-2014 If you repurpose an entertainment system expect it to be treated as a noncritical distribution system
Hands On with the HTC One M8 for Windows: The first OS-agnostic phone | Ars Technica 22-Aug-2014 Now that we have a phone that can run more than one operating system the user should be able to choose which to boot.
re Humans Need Not Apply, and Robot Swarms 18-Aug-2014 Jobs are an increasingly anachronistic method of wealth (re)distribution.
"Fast Lanes" Saved the Internet - not 04-Aug-2014 We need to be aware of proof by example. We connect despite teleom rather than because of it.
Connectivity Policy 17-Jul-2014 (Updated: 31-Jul-2014 PDFThe internet is a different way of using the same facilities (wires, radios etc.) used for telecommunications. The big difference is that the Internet approach is not limited to provider-defined for-profit offerings. The differences go far deeper. I use the term "borderless connectivity" for the new concept. The approach is being adopted from the edge -- driven by market forces. Telecommunications becomes just another resource as one way to extend connectivity as we shift from being dependent upon service providers to creating our own solutions. Today's Internet gives a hint of what we can do with the new opportunities.
re Is the End to End Principle of any use going forward? 10-Jul-2014 I'm amazed at Internet-denialism. The end-to-end is about innovation outside of a network and opportunity. The old telecom metrics don't apply.
Connectivity problem 10-Jul-2014 We are still dealing with the legacy of circuits using protocols and approaches which presume a common pipe for all packets and purposes.
(Not) Getting the Message Across 01-Jul-2014 (Updated: 30-Jun-2014 PDFIf we are to get the benefits of the Internet's connectivity we need transparent paths without intermediaries either to press "agree" or having protocols like Bluetooth which insist on "understanding" the messages before passing them on.
The Troubling Truth of Why It’s Still So Hard to Share Files Directly 30-Jun-2014 Today's Internet as too many twisting winding passages rather than simple connectivity
'Wi-Fi First' - What still needs to happen -- 29-Jun-2014 Questions about "Agree" screens and their ilk.
'Wi-Fi First' - What still needs to happen -- 28-Jun-2014 As calling over Wi-Fi becomes more common we need to think about Wi-Fi as a primary transport rather than an offload for cellular. Instead cellular is simply a backup transport.
Over-provisioning bandwidth doesn't solve QoE problems 23-Jun-2014 We need to wary about using backward looking Telco-based metrics when trying to understand the Internet's connectivity.
RE: [IP] Over-provisioning bandwidth doesn't solve QoE problems 21-Jun-2014 Let's be careful about using old telecom measures when we try to understand the Internet
Blast from the past? 19-May-2014 Same group of us arguing the same issues for 35 years. Sigh.
Re Comcast plans data caps for all customers in 5 years, could be 500GB 14-May-2014 Broadband Competition is a filed approach. We need to have competition for providing common facilities rather than vying for favors from gatekeepers
Re White House opposes Aereo streaming TV service in Supreme Court battle 27-Apr-2014 Sure Aereo is a workaround copyrights but such workarounds are nothing new.
Heart bleed Highlights a Contradiction in the Web - NYTimes.com 19-Apr-2014 There's a lot of magical thinking iin expecting systems to work simply becuase they are supposed to.
Comcast: A simple remedy? 16-Apr-2014 We need to take a creative approach to new infrastructure
The Language of Smart Cities 13-Apr-2014 Another reminder of how much "smart cities" miss the lessons Jane Jacobs tried to teach us.
Re; Comcast: A simple remedy? 07-Apr-2014 We need to take a creative approach to new infrastructure elaborated
HTML5 01-Apr-2014 (Updated: 31-Mar-2014 PDFHTML5 is becoming the very portable virtual machine that makes it easy to create and share rich interactive applications.
Yet more on Big Data...and IoT 30-Mar-2014 Big Data and IoT are exciting ideas but has the hype outstripped reality ... again?
Spectrum as Farmland? 10-May-2009 (Updated: 10-Mar-2014 PDFI can understand why the idea of spectrum auctions are so attractive to economists. But is it good policy? Is spectrum really like "40 acres and a mule"? Spectrum is not dirt.
The Internet of Things versus the Access Framing 01-Jul-2013 (Updated: 09-Mar-2014 PDFThe Internet is a technique for using any available facilities to exchange bits and implement relationships between end points using whatever facilities are available. There is no border. When we talking about "accessing" the Internet we isolate ourselves from the abundance by treating the Internet as something apart.
Comsos - Science and motivation 08-Mar-2014 We should applaud efforts to broaden interest in science. The reason science funding is often driven by the military is not because we like war but because we fail to appreciate the value inquiry.
Thinking Outside the Internet 07-Mar-2014 PDF 📹 (video) In order to understand the importance of connectivity we have to think outside the paradigm of pipes or channels that characterized classic period of networking dating back to Shannon. The Internet itself is about borderless connectivity with the value and meaning outside the channels. This has strong implications for how we provide (and fund) the opportunity we associate with "The Internet"
The Internet Of Things: The Real Money Is The Internet, Not The Things 03-Mar-2014 Today's focus is on 3rd capturing value. We need to recapture the innovative spirit of the Internet by creating enabling technologies at the edge.
Re The myth of the fall 03-Mar-2014 Open source isn't entirely new. Sharing software has a long history.
The problem with Netflix/Comcast is SS7 all over again 24-Feb-2014 Having Netflix pay for getting guarantees for their performance brings us back to the days of SS7 when one had to make sure that each service was built into the network. It is a very worrisome precedent.
Re Streaming Video Isn't Playing Nice with the Internet 19-Feb-2014 Another example of what happens when we have an inherent conflict of interest.
MAC addresses and Tracking 13-Feb-2014 We need to remember that many of the constraints we try to work around are simply engineering and policy decisions. We could revisit them rather than trying to work around the problems. The MAC addresses and the channels we use to communicate are just constructs.
House to passengers: Shut up! 12-Feb-2014 Why is congress legislating the etiquette of airline passengers? WTF?
Heat System Called Door to Target for Hackers 06-Feb-2014 Yet another reminder of the dangers of perimeter security
The Understanding Stops At The FCC 24-Jan-2014 Another reminder that the Internet is a paradigm beyond the scope of the FCC
Routing (Packets) vs. Gatewaying (Messages 23-Jan-2014 PDFOur smart phones are wonderful devices with many functions built-in. This is in contrast with the simplicity of the Internet in which we simply route packets of bits rather than having to wait for third parties for each message. I contrast the simple routing of packets with the complexities of gatewaying messages with service providers attempting to “add value” to our relationships.
Evolution and the Internet 06-Jan-2014 Understanding how systems evolve is as much about the Internet as biology. We need to understand that the Internet wasn't designed as much as evolved as we discovered how to communicate without depending on a third party in the middle of the conversation.
Bob Frankston
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