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 is a more directed overview of primary 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.

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.

Year: 2015

Further Reading 2/18/2015 (Updated: 10/8/2015) PDF
Any one essay can only skim the surface. For further reading ...
Undercover New Hampshire police nab cellphone ban violators / AKAbanning photography 10/1/2015
If your camear can run a telephony app does that make it illegal to use in a car even if it's stopped?IPList
The Engineers "Dilemma" 9/27/2015
The telecommunications business model has problems. The FCC's well-meaning efforts to make that business work has the unintended consequences of protecting it from alternatives approaches that can work far better. This extends to protecting it from better engineering.IPList
Snake Oil for the Innovation Age: Problems with Clayton Christensen's "Disruptive Innovation" 9/19/2015
We need to be wary of claims that we can manage our way through disruptive changes. But nostrums and solutions sell books so we tend to try to tame disruption rather than embracing the new opportunities. We should read the The Innovator's Dilemma as descriptive rather than prescriptive.IPList
Let Consumers Use Better, Cheaper Cable Boxes - The New York Times 8/31/2015
The FCC may be getting ready to encourage set top box competition but that only fixes a symptom. It doesn't address the problem of silos.IPList
#APIFirst: How Things Speak to Each other 7/21/2015 (Updated: 8/11/2015) PDF
If we are to understand the world of connected devices we need to look behind the surface of the web to the APIs (Application Program Interfaces) that are the building blocks for the services we use and the ways devices “listen”. The hashtag #APIFirst emphasizes the importance of this foundation.
Why Can't We Be Like South Korea? 8/1/2015
We need to be careful about what we ask for and heed the lessons of Minitel which was the future in 1980 but lacked the dynamic of the Internet.
For .sucks Web domains, the currency seems to be paid in reputations| BetaBoston notsp 7/23/2015
What sucks is the idea that you can't owner your very identity nor reputation!IPList
A Software-(re)Defined World. 7/8/2015 (Updated: 7/14/2015) PDF
My Keynote from the ICCE conference in Taiwan June 2015
When Algorithms Discriminate 7/13/2015
We tend have faith in algorithms as if they represent a divined truth.
For Start-Ups, How Many Angels Is Too Many? 7/7/2015
Is angel investing become too much like a lottery?IPList
Re: Where is Google taking us? 7/6/2015
Google is doing interesting projects but let's remember that they have a neat trick and not a crystal ball.IPList
Chicago’s cloud tax 7/2/2015
The idea of an "Internet Tax" misses the point that the Internet is just the latest face of ecommerce going back to Sears selling from a catalog over the phone.IPList
Why ICANN's Whois Accuracy Program is a disaster | Security contentfrom Dev Pro 5/28/2015
Yet another reminder of how ICANN is more about classic telecom providing services rather than empowering us.IPList
Deconstructing Television: Delivery, content, and Policy 4/24/2015 (Updated: 5/7/2015) PDF
The business “Television” as we know it is very much tied to the accidental properties of 1930’s vintage technology. We need to rethink very part of the technology and the industry.
Re how to Beat a Polygraph Test - NYTimes.com 4/13/2015
In our search for swift and sure justice we imbue hacks like polygraphs with magical powers far beyond those of mortal devices.IPList
Surprise! Cell calls that sound superb ... but why? 4/9/2015
Verizon is selling VoLTE with the promise that one day it will be as good as Skype but that claim misses the point of VoIP which gave us the ability to do a Skype.IPList
Product that do their own reorders 4/1/2015 PDF
Products that do their own reorders may create ecosystems that may give a strong advantage to incumbents.
Quora Question: What Is It Like to Have Been Programming for the Past Fifty Years? 3/21/2015
My response to the Quora question about what it's been like to have been programming for half a century. You can also see the answer on Quora.external site
Cancer genetic tests offered on websites often not all they promiseto be, Dana-Farber study finds - Metro - The Boston Globe 3/21/2015
While there is value in big data many of the expectations are driven by marketing rather than real science.IPList
DL- GOOGLE Makes Us GODS (via Iona Miller) like Icarus 3/20/2015
The idea that we can gain by connecting our brains to the Internet. But our brains have never been isolated. They have always been connected to the rest of society and the intelligence outside the brain and inherent in its architecture have always been our source of smarts.We need to be careful lest this hubris lead us think this time we have the one true answer.IPList
Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins 3/16/2015
Another example of hubris in assuming that we can automate warfare ... and the rest of society.IPList
Internet-Native Policies 2/17/2015 (Updated: 2/19/2015) PDF
Amid all the recent discussion about "Network Neutrality" a concern is that we may be losing the soul of the Internet – the ability to create our own solutions. Our "flow" metaphors fail us when dealing with the tolerant and bursty nature of the Internet. The Internet is not a utility, nor is it a consumable we can meter like electricity or water.

Now that the Internet has begun to "grow up" we need to move beyond policies appropriate for a nascent Internet seeking passage through a telecommunications network and start to adopt Internet Native Policies to facilitate connectivityCircleID
Connectivity Site 2/14/2015
I will be setting up a site for sharing approaches to sharing connectivity with our neighbors and communities at Connectivity.xyzexternal site
Verizon nears "the end" of FiOS builds | Ars Technica 1/27/2015
Verizon looks to wireless for profits but that may not last longIPList
What infrastructure is needed for positively disruptive technology 11/30/2014 (Updated: 1/20/2015) PDF
The talk I gave to ISOCNY November 11 2014 aimed at helping policymakers revisit their "givens".
Seizing the wrist and re-understanding the Internet 4/13/2012 (Updated: 1/2/2015) PDF
Wrist-based programmable devices (AKA watches) and other devices give us a reason to rethink the design point of the Internet.
The Wrist: Information near Your Fingertips 9/27/1993 (Updated: 1/2/2015) PDF
In 1993 I wrote about the importance of the wrist as real estate for information. After twenty years the ideas seem be becoming mainstream.

Year: 2014

Silicon Valley's Mirror Effect - The New Meritocracy 12/27/2014
The rise of the meritocracy risks policies based on the hindsight bias.IPList
Putting it all Together? 12/25/2014 PDF
The idea of an automated home is premised on the idea that we can just put together any number of programs and they would auto-magically compromise a coherent whole. After a half a century of programming I know we still have a lot to learn.
Trying to talk about the future using the vocabulary of the past 11/21/2014
It is very difficult to talk about connectivity policy when the very vocabulary implicitly assumes the 19th framing of telecommunications.IPList
Re: The Creepy New Wave of the Internet 11/17/2014
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.IPList
Bob Frankston
Copyright 1997-2012
Bob Frankston Site