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" with public access. I may create a file with links to some of them if there is interest.

You can send me Email. Note this unique address is only valid for the next few days.

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.

Seizing the wrist and re-understanding the Internet 13-Apr-2012 (Updated: 02-Jan-2015 PDFWrist-based programmable devices (AKA watches) and other devices give us a reason to rethink the design point of the Internet.
Refactoring Consumer Electronics 24-Dec-2012 (Updated: 19-Oct-2014 PDFArticle in the January 2013 issue of the IEEE Consumer Electronics magazine. The concepts behind the Internet -- the best efforts exchange of raw bits -- represents a basic shift from a framing of electrons and pipes to one in which we can focus on relationships and applications. (The IEEE version is available here)
Information versus Telecom 05-May-2011 (Updated: 26-Dec-2012 PDFIf you think that the Internet is important because it's a network you're missing the point. Today's telecommunications industry exists in defiance of all we've learned about "information" in the last 100 years. In 1897 the British Copyright office warned us about the danger of creating scarcity by taking our abundance and converting it to private property. In 1949 Claude Shannon gave us a science of "Information" that helped us understand the distinction between bits and what we do with them. The generativity of today's Internet demonstrates the power of the idea. We need to build on this understanding and experience to create an infrastructure that supports the exchange of bits. We can then focus on relationships and creating value rather than getting lost in the constricted pipes of today's Telecom.
USB Rubber Ducky Online Payload Generator 18-Dec-2012 A worrisome attack vector via low level device interfaces.
Re Seattle is the latest city to go around ISPs to get a gigabit network 15-Dec-2012 One day a Gigabit may matter but today such connections are simply PR fodder deverting our attention from demanding availability.
3D in Perspective – First Thoughts 23-May-2010 (Updated: 25-Nov-2012 PDFI'm excited about the possibilities for stereoscopic (3D) viewing but we need to step back to understand the possibilities. It may be far more about your family photo album than big budget movies.
Re ITU gone wild 21-Nov-2012 We need to remember that the problem with the ITU is not the details of their proposals but in the fact that telecommunications is a very different paradigm from the Internet.
ALEC-ATT-Verizon-FCC vs. what we want vs. what we need 18-Nov-2012 A post about choices in connectivity based on a Kushnick proposal
Internet Connectivity: Toward a Sustainable Funding Model 05-Nov-2012 PDFI wrote this for an Internet Society discussion on policy issues. ITU gives us a Hobson's choice for sender or payer pays. There is another option -- paying for a common infrastructure. This avoids the problems with traditional telecom funding modes. (Also available on CircleID)
The Risks of Telecom 21-Oct-2012 The recent New Yorker story about an accident on the Chinese railroad mentioned a passenger upload a picture to the web while the train's engineer couldn't communciate because he had to use a traditional communications system.
Fwd: [IP] Who Made That Escape Key? - NYTimes.com 07-Oct-2012 A light hearted piece on the ESCape key in the NYT Magazine.
Podcast with Chris Mitchell of Muninet 27-Sep-2012 We talk about how to make connectivity more available to communities.
Re Who Benefits From iOS6's Crappy Maps and other business models 22-Sep-2012 If we are to understand why Apple wants to own their maps and why telecommunications companies are what they are we need to look at how the various markets work.
T-Mobile Closed my Local Store 16-Sep-2012 My local T-Mobile store had knowledge staff -- that's why I know and use T-Mobile. Now they are devolving into simply a second tier carrier. Their ads don't do much to tell me what is different (actually selling phones instead of just leasing).
The Signal has Left the Network 07-Sep-2012 (Updated: 08-Sep-2012 📹 (video) The power of the Internet comes from radical simplicity as I explain this talk I gave to the IEEE Communications Society.
Owning blue? 14-Aug-2012 Frank posted some of my comments about the business of owning colors.
GlobeCom 2012 Webinar 12-Aug-2012 PDFWebinar to preview my GlobeCom 2012 presentations.
Grand Debate:The Internet vs. Telecom 08-Aug-2012 Announcement for the preview for the GlobeCom event.
The PSTN vs. the Internet 06-Aug-2012 The PSTN and Internet are different ways to use the same resources. We should look the post-PSTN era as an opportunity rather than a threat.
AT&T to Discontinue GSM and EDGE 2G Networks by 2017 05-Aug-2012 How do we build persistent devices when we are dependent upon the whim of a path provider?
Wi-Fi and Smartphones Make Homes a Little Smarter - NYTimes.com V2 02-Aug-2012 We're starting to see devices that take advantage of connectivity with the whom. It's a reminder that the Internet isn't just about the web and a reminder of how much further we have to go.
More ‘wireless’ Internet” begs the question. 27-Jul-2012 (Updated: 01-Aug-2012 PDFIf we are to best support the needs of society and the economy we need to first ask the right questions.
re Who Really Invented the Internet? -WSJ 23-Jul-2012 The problem with this attempt to make up a political myth is not just that it gets it wrong but it confuses an idea with an implementation.
Re Making the Most of the Wireless Spectrum 20-Jul-2012 The governments PCAST's embrace of "spectrum sharing" misses the point of the Internet.
Thinking outside the pipe 17-Oct-2011 (Updated: 19-Jul-2012 PDFThe idea that bits must flow through wires or virtual pipes makes it hard to think of the Internet as infrastructure like roads. We communicate by exchanging bits. We need to move beyond the pipe or railroad metaphors if we are to take advantage of the abundant opportunities all around us.
The light bulb as an end point. 22-Jun-2012 PDFYou can buy LED bulbs that be act as network end points in themselves rather than depending on the light fixture.
re Leaked proposal reveals UN/ITU plans for Internet taxes - again 10-Jun-2012 The question shouldn't be how to govern the Internet, it should be what does it mean to govern our very ability to communicate.
Verizon's 300Mbps FiOS vs LTE 03-Jun-2012 What if Verizon add a Wi-Fi/LTE access point at each FiOS drop -- we'd have essentially unlimited capacity without "consuming" spectrum. It's such a powerful solution we have to wonder why they prefer scarcity.
New Comcast service turns TV into data center - silos and priorities 22-May-2012 As each service provider redoubles its effort to lock users into their world we get the kind of lock-ins we associate with monopolies.
Re: Calculating Data Network's Total Capacity Notoriously Difficult, but Theorists Making Some Headway 21-May-2012 Measuring capacity in channels misses the point of the Internet in decoupling meaning from bits.
Halting the future?, Re: [IP] Video: "Challenge of Change" (1961) 14-May-2012 Little has changed since this 1961 ATT promotional video -- as ATT continues try to take credit for value created outside of their network.
Re Speech by ITU Secretary-General - Canadian Wireless Telecommunication Association Wireless Antenna Sitting Forum : Closing Keynote Speech 05-May-2012 It isn't rational to invest in today's telecom industry. It is rational to invest in infrastructure. Today's problems with attracting capital are simply symptoms that we should heed rather than redoubling our effort to live in the past.
Fwd: RE: OpenRadio changes what it means to be an ISP 20-Apr-2012 OpenFlow and OpenRadio seem like throwbacks to the days of circuits.
The Information not-so-super Highway 07-Feb-2011 (Updated: 19-Apr-2012 PDF It doesn't matter whether we're stuck in the slow lane or the fast lane. What matters is that we're confined to lanes.
New watch. WIMM ONE 11-Apr-2012 Dave Farber tries the WIMM watch.
Re Comcast Exempts Itself From Its Data Cap -- going over IP makes policies such policies more visible 28-Mar-2012 In substituting an XBox for a set top box Comcast is moving their core functions outside their network. Same for Verizon/FiOS and others.
From DIY to the Internet 11-Mar-2012 (Updated: 14-Mar-2012 PDFThe Internet has become a phenomenon because if empowers us. To understand how to get "more Internet" we must recognize that we got the Internet by doing things ourselves (DIY) and if we want more connectivity we need to start locally rather than petitioning the telecommunications providers. The Internet is not a layer on top of telecommunications but an entirely different concept.
DIY To Connectivity --the Video 14-Mar-2012 📹 (video) My presentation at the ISOC DC March 1st 2012 meeting on Connecting Everyone.
DIY to Connectivity -- The Slides 14-Mar-2012 The Slides Corresponding to the ISOC DC talk
Re Verizon launches faster[sic]-than-wired wireless broadband for homes; starts at $60/mo V2 08-Mar-2012 Again Verizon is attempting to recycle old products to new markets. Why should Verizon make more money than Netflix just for deigning to let a few bits reach customers?
For the Internet, No More Innovation for the Fun of It 06-Mar-2012 A well-written piece by Nick Bolton on the dangers of managed innovation.
Plans for 'TV Everywhere' Bog Down in Tangled Pacts 06-Mar-2012 TV anywhere is caught in the web woven to keep content under control.
Mobile to go Wi-Fi within a year: Cisco — and we can’t do it now? 04-Mar-2012 "Mobile" has already gone "Wi-Fi". Are the carriers trying to lockdown Wi-Fi so they can sell it back to us? WTF! But then, what's now -- they have nothing to sell that we don't already have.
re Comcast and other providers rush to impose data caps 02-Mar-2012 Comcast's caps go against the trend to move all content over IP
$51 for 2 Minutes: German Pay Phones Anger Troops 02-Mar-2012 The story about overcharging GI's in transit is framed as if nothing has changed in telecommunications other than a small change in the cost of phone calls.
The Internet as DIY -- DC March 1st 2012 26-Feb-2012 The Internet's importance comes by providing opportunity for individuals and groups to create new value without being dependent upon service providers.
Bell Labs Innovation in perspective 26-Feb-2012 We should applaud the transformation changes that came from work done at Bell Labs. When we do so we must make sure we take away the right lessons rather than expecting innovation magic.
Re Canada is ordering all IP Interconnetion for Core Realtime Communications 10-Feb-2012 Trying to reconcile VoIP with traditional telecommunications may be a noble effort but we need to face up to the fundamtel difference in the concepts.
CES 2012: In Perspective 07-Feb-2012 (Updated: 09-Feb-2012 PDFObservations from the Consumer Electronics Show. While I do describe some of the products this is more a view of the ongoing changes in consumer electronics and more.
ICCE 2012: A Software Perspective 06-Feb-2012 PDFThe founder of Broadcom gave an interesting talk on this history of the hardware used in networks. While the chips are important I'm a software guy as see them in the context of applications and larger market forces.
It’s about Capacity not Speed 30-Jan-2012 (Updated: 01-Feb-2012 PDFElectrons all go at the same speed so we do we talk about speed when it's really about capacity?
re BT plan puts 300Mbps in apartment blocks 30-Jan-2012 300Mbps per apartment sounds great until you think about it.
Jobs, Jobs and Cars ... and Speech 27-Jan-2012 "Creating" jobs requires creating a supportive environment. Part of this is the ability to communicate. The US First Amendment creates an atmosphere the encourages experimentation. We also need the ability to exchange bits and today's idea of making speech a profit center does great harm to our ability to do business.
Hotspot 2.0 and or X.400 Redux 12-Jan-2012 Another attempt by the incumbent carriers to try to hold back connectivity.
SOPA, DRM and Strange Bedfellows 09-Jan-2012 PDFPolitics makes for strange bedfellows because seeming agreements often mask radically different understandings beyond the agreement. This is why "friends of the Internet" can support bad ideas like SOPA and DRM.
Top 1% NYT Readers are Consuming 50% of the text! (was Top 1% of the Mobile users are consuming the world) 08-Jan-2012 Once again we see the false meme that the Internet it something we can use up. In this case it's compounded by hijacking the 1% meme. More disturbing when the NY Times gives such false ideas credibility.
Missing the point of the Internet 02-Jan-2012 We continue to force the Internet into the mold of telecom rather than recognizing it is something completely different.
Risks of Focusing on risks 02-Jan-2012 Too many institutions are focused on avoiding risks. How do we adopt a balanced approach to risk?
The Un-Internet and the war on general purpose computing 02-Jan-2012 It's hard to see past discontinuities and thus we tend to fear them. Thus we tend to deny ourselves the benefits despite examples like the Internet and general purpose computing.
Bob Frankston
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