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.

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.
Demystifying Networking 29-Nov-2010 (Updated: 09-Feb-2011 PDFExchanging bits is a simple idea but one that is shrouded in misunderstandings that keep us dependent upon service providers. If see past the mystery and understand networking we can fund infrastructure as a public good. It would give us the kind generative opportunity that a service provider can't give. In fact the service providers very existence depends upon keeping their users dependent and limited.
The FCC and Neutrality in Perspective 26-Dec-2010 (Updated: 28-Dec-2010 PDFThe FCC can try to keep the "Broadband Internet" open but that's not the same as enabling the "generative Internet"
Sidewalks: Paying by the Stroll 25-May-2006 (Updated: 17-Dec-2010 PDFWe've gotten used to paying for phone calls as a service. It almost seems normal. Why not take this concept further. Why not regulate Transport Service Providers in order to assure Quality of Stroll?
FCC Chief Backs Usage-Based Broadband Pricing 09-Dec-2010 It's unfortunate the the FCC is taking a stance that is contrary to the very idea of the Internet -- value being created outside the network.
How do we create opportunity? 06-Dec-2010 Four minutes on creating opportunity. Today's Internet is just a hint of what is possible. How do we talk the idea further?
Re: [IP] FCC chairman to propose plan for net neutrality 01-Dec-2010 No surprise that the FCC frames it's policy within the limitations of telecom.
Comcast vs. Level Three vs. the Rest of Us 01-Dec-2010 PDFComcast seems to be at center of a set of tiffs all centered around their role as a service provider.
Re: [IP] FCC chairman to propose plan for net neutrality 01-Dec-2010 The FCC may be trying to do what is right but can't quite get there.
Re: "Is a more expensive Internet a good thing? About Comcast and Level 3" 30-Nov-2010 The problem is not the cost of transport but the conflict of interest inherent in the current concept of telecom.
Re: Mall's Wi-Fi blocks "adult" content -- is 900 a synonym for "adult" 30-Nov-2010 More discussion on censorship and also the implicit association of pornography and 900 numbers.
If this had been an actual emergency ... 29-Nov-2010 Comcast's outage shows they aren't building infrastructure.
Re: If this had been an actual emergency ... 29-Nov-2010 Another reminder that cloud can be very useful but we need to be wary about dependencies. Whatever people think they mean by "the cloud"
Re: Mall's Wi-Fi blocks adult content related to their own stores 29-Nov-2010 Trying to manage social behavior by constricting the plumbing of the Internet is another reminder of the misunderstanding that abound.
Re: Ars technica on BGP concerns 23-Nov-2010 Today's Internet routing protocols assume that we can trust everyone in the world to do everything just right. Oops.
Maker Faire and (disconnected) Things 22-Nov-2010 PDFI was excited by Maker Faire in New York. It gives us the opportunity to go beyond the glass screen into the real world.
Re: U.S. may require jamming of cell phone use inside vehicles 18-Nov-2010 The idea of making driving safer by jamming cell phones show show the danger of patching rather than thinking.
Re: [IP] My first week with Google TV 13-Nov-2010 Google TV is an interesting beta.
What is TV? 12-Nov-2010 PDFIn order to understand Google TV we need to think about we mean by "TV".
Sociotechnopathia 11-Nov-2010 PDFIs "social" really a technology?
Clearwire in deep financial trouble, may not survive 09-Nov-2010 What did Clearwire's investors expect in building yet another commodity bit-pipe?
Flexview 09-Nov-2010 Is Verizon taking on Netflix and reducing our dependence on the physical cable?
Bandwidth vs Capacity 05-Nov-2010 We must not confuse provisioned capacity, AKA telecom capacity, with the potential capacity of "The Internet".
Dish exec says Hulu is killing TV industry 04-Nov-2010 Let's be careful. When people say that Hulu is killing TV we need to understand that it's really forcing a change in the business model.
Why it’s hard to understand the difference between the Internet and Telecom 29-Oct-2010 PDFThe Internet is something very different from telecom so why do we keep treating the Internet as just another telecom service?
ATT et al are simply doing what they said they would do 27-Oct-2010 The faux controversy of the use of Bit Torrent at hotspots is another example of blaming the victim when the real problem is the constrictions caused by the carriers publicly stated need for scarcity.
Re: [IP] Effects of BitTorrent on a wireless hotspot -- blaming the victim not the unprovider! 26-Oct-2010 Before we blame the victim for cellular capacity we should ask who put the limits there.
Authentication vs. Vouching 24-Oct-2010 We need to understand the difference between who you are and what you do lest we judge people rather than actions.
Re: Internet Becomes Weapon in Fox-Cablevision Fight 20-Oct-2010 We need to distinguish between ISPs censoring and content providers limiting availability according to the path.
Verizon Cedes Control of the Value Chain 18-Oct-2010 PDFVerizon announced that they are selling a generic iPad and are bundling it with a MiFi unit. This is very different from the impression they want to give of having a "Verizon iPad".
Re: NYTimes: U.S. wants access to *all* encrypted Internet communications 27-Sep-2010 It's hard for policy makers to understand that the Internet is an idea and not just another network.
Fwd: Y2K and the Dot Com implosion. 23-Sep-2010 Could exaggerated fears of Y2K caused the dotcom bubble and then the collapse?
Hey Cable Guys! Cord Cutting is real, and It's a Problem Says Verizon CEO 23-Sep-2010 Verizon is admitting that the money is to be made using the network rather than owning it.
Re IPV6 reality starts dawning on ISPs - Really? 16-Sep-2010 For the short term we need additional IP addresses and V6 does help address that need. Longer term we need new ways to connect end points.
ATT Policies and other stuff from the whacky world of the cellularity 13-Sep-2010 Why I can't buy a SIM card from ATT? Why do I pay most carriers even if I bring my own phone. More from the irrational marketplace we call cellular.
Did Internet Founders Actually Anticipate Paid, Prioritized Traffic 11-Sep-2010 History is our understanding of the past informed by the present. Science and engineering are informed by the but not prisoners of history. It doesn't matter what the "founders" said as much as what we learn from them.
Re QoS vs. Neutrality -- the crux of the matter -- why the attraction and where's the network? 02-Sep-2010 We can provide various measures of "quality" as marketplace offerings rather than building it into the public infrastructure and avoid the naive assumption that there is only one measure of quality and that we must pay any price for it.
Re: Thomas Edison's plot to hijack the movie industry 02-Sep-2010 A reminder of why Silos are the new Trusts and why we need to create opportunity rather than more managed innovation.
QoS vs. Neutrality -- the crux of the matter 02-Sep-2010 Bits are inherently neutral but services are not. This why carriers want us to believe we need their services even though we don't.
Re: Additional or differentiated services 27-Aug-2010 Verizon holds aside capacity so I can't even watch NECN HD broadcast down the street from my house.
Re: Additional or differentiated services (QoS as an expensive option) 27-Aug-2010 The idea of Quality of Service continues to create confusion because it seems necessary but really just creates unnecessary costs while undermining our ability to communicate.
Re: [IP] VZ Google Announcement worth reading -- and worth challenging 16-Aug-2010 Before we have a group to advice on broadband implementation shouldn't was ask if broadband is the right answer?
On NOT Baking in Special Services 14-Aug-2010 (Updated: 16-Aug-2010 PDFThe idea that some content type, like video, is more equal than others and that provider bits don't count undermines the ability of the Internet to continue to be a dynamic generative environment.
Risks of network managers 14-Aug-2010 Why we should be wary of trusting network management by those who think it's about the network and not what we do with networking.
Re: Irish Times: "A modest proposal on internet neutrality"-- the dangers of baking in our naive assumptions 14-Aug-2010 Even if you wanted to implement policies that favor "good" behavior can you even do it without causing even more harm?
Re: Is a CDN Non-Neutral? 12-Aug-2010 The Internet isn't just about "content delivery"
Are Google and Verizon basically the same? 10-Aug-2010 Both Google and Verizon delivery content using their own and others' pipes.
Re: Google / Verizon "net neutrality" conference call complete - quick summary 09-Aug-2010 As long as we insist on the irrational and dysfunctional business model the Internet as just another broadband service any talk of neutrality is pointless.
Just another Thursday 08-Aug-2010 PDFA trip to fetch a bike becomes an adventure
Re: Google, Net Neutrality, and Fairness 08-Aug-2010 Neutrality and QoS don't mix. Another reminder that NN is a problematic framing.
inSecurity on Cell phones 06-Aug-2010 Do the cell phone companies understand connectivity?
Re: Upcoming Fifth Amendment argument against Net Neutrality 02-Aug-2010 If the carriers can claim neutrality diminishes the value of their assets then we are only quibbling over price and they may not have much to bargain with.
The First Amendment and the FRC 26-Jul-2010 In the 1920's the Federal Radio Commission was created as a reluctant exception to the US First Amendment
Smart Grid vs Copernicus 14-Jul-2010 The Smart Grid policies seem show little learning from the lessons of the Internet and that costs us dearly.
Re: Why it's hard to hack the power grid, and why NSA is the wrong choice to protect it 13-Jul-2010 We keep making policy based on a naive understanding of how systems work.
Re: Major UK ISPs challenge Digital Economy Act 09-Jul-2010 What is the cost of trying to prevent "piracy"?
Zombies Ahead 04-Jul-2010 Hardening the Internet plumbing and have government sponsored identity doesn't address the complex concept of trust. How do we know to ignore signs saying "Zombies Ahead"and pay attention to signs saying "US-1".
Re: Irresponsible science and academic fraud 29-Jun-2010 Is education simply about maximizing test scores?
Irresponsible science and academic fraud 28-Jun-2010 Broadband - from bad science (AKA, bad methodology) comes bad policy
Re: USPTO grants (inappropriate) patent to Amazon's Bezos 26-Jun-2010 Charging for services. What a novel idea ... 40 years ago.
Re: AT&T's 1993 "You Will" Commercials 26-Jun-2010 ATT had ads that foretold a future that ATT would bring you. That future sort of happened but despite ATT and not because of it. Beware the temptation to pick winners.
Re: [IP] re ICANN Likely to Approve "Dot-Ex-Ex-Ex" Domain for Chumps! but it's the DNS itself that does the damage 24-Jun-2010 XXX is another reminder that the DNS is a source of revenue for ICANN even as it threatens the future of the Internet
Re: [IP] Expensive malware appears for Microsoft's Windows Mobile -- Be very afraid of those who want to make you afraid 06-Jun-2010 Once more we're told we should be afraid of computing and let others make decisions for us.
Re: [IP] Steve Jobs: Google TV Will Go the Way of TiVo and Roku. And other twisting and winding paths 04-Jun-2010 ATT's woes with providing adequate capacity and the complexities of the set top box are symptoms of the 19th century roots of telecom. We need to change the context in order to discover capacity and find simplicity.
Re: 4G -- reality vs. hype 31-May-2010 So what is 4G, what are the numbers?
Re: DNS vs. CDN 29-May-2010 The less we assume we know what the Internet is the more that it can be.
Verizon Wireless: 900 Redux 22-May-2010 PDFOnce again Verizon is acting as a conduit for fraudulant charges and insisting on being paid while disclaiming all responsbility.
Is the RIAA carrying out its threat to destroy the world's economy? 13-May-2010 We risk continue grave economic harm by trying to lock down our infrastructure lest a few bits go unmonitored.
Re: German court orders wireless passwords for all 13-May-2010 Too bad the German courts are making simplifying connectivity illegal.
Re: How Lafayette, Louisiana built fiber, with dominant ISPs fighting them every step of the way 13-May-2010 (Updated: 12-May-2010 Congratulations to Lafayette. Next step is to go from the Telco model to infrastructure.
Canada goes crazy 07-May-2010 With the government endorsing charging for bits what's next, charging for words? The problem is in the business model for telecom rather than infrastructure. Follow up discussion here, here and in more detail.
Re: [IP] US: Hollywood can disable TV set features 07-May-2010 Why is the FCC micromanaging business models?
Re: Predicting a black market in IPv4 addresses 06-May-2010 We worry about running out of IP addresses but we should instead as whether we're focusing on the right problem.
re Ariz. college using RFID for the appearance of class attendance 04-May-2010 We get enamored with the theater of technology while forgetting about substance.
eBooks are not worth the paper they aren't printed on 01-May-2010 eBooks with DRM reduces their value by limiting our ability to use them.
Personal Information on the Copy Machine 22-Apr-2010 We are leaving tracks all over -- can the legal system reconcile this trail with our expectations of privacy?
WSJ: Cash Is Turning Into a Hang-Up for Verizon 19-Apr-2010 It's difficult to make money selling a superabundant nonconsumable
Web Coupons Know Lots About You, and They Tell 17-Apr-2010 NY Times story reminding us how we're being tracked
Privacy Questions About the New "Google Cloud Print" Service 16-Apr-2010 While cloud-based services can play a valuable role we need to be wary about over-dependence upon providers.
The myth of Title II reclassification 15-Apr-2010 Applying telecom regulations to the Internet is severe cognitive disonnance.
the future .. DNS National Security and the ICANN clowns 13-Apr-2010 Trying to make the DNS security is like locking the barn door in the open position.
Could it happen here? 13-Apr-2010 The British Digital Economy bill is an example of the damage that comes from view the Internet as the enemy.
Re: [IP] The Press Realizes The FiOS Party Is Over 03-Apr-2010 Now that the FiOS party is over Verizon now has to figure out how to pay the bill.
Unwanted phone charges raising consumer ire 30-Mar-2010 A billing system designed for telegraphy continues to annoy us.
Re: [IP] WORTH READING This Is Why People Hate the Phone Company, AT&T - Tested 27-Mar-2010 We shouldn't have third parties in control of our very identity and presence.
Re: ICANN helps China censor Internet. Root servers leak censored DNS replies outside Great Firewall 26-Mar-2010 We shouldn't have third parties in control of our very identity and presence.
Google Is Hiring Bond Traders 23-Mar-2010 Google's bond trading is a reminder that others own a lot of our data.
Re: Atlantic article claims "Cable TV is Doomed" 20-Mar-2010 "Cable" TV is about business models not any particular technology.
Re: Government webpage for every citizen in the race to create a paperless society 20-Mar-2010 Slowly the courts are coming to terms with the idea the Internet access is fundamental.
Re: Why Networks Want to Kill Hulu? 19-Mar-2010 Hulu has played an important role in moving TV to the Internet but we should think of it more as an example than a necessity.
FW: FCC plans spectrum-flog to fund broadband 17-Mar-2010 Another source of much effort and few results.
Re: 3G-Ready Nexus One Now Available Unlocked on AT&T - Google - Gizmodo 16-Mar-2010 Why do I need a phone just to use a different 3G frequency?
Former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt: Internet Trumps TV 13-Mar-2010 The Internet is more than another television network.
Broadband – DRM and Purpose 13-Mar-2010 PDFAt $1000/household/year the ability to communicate seems more like a privilege than a right. It doesn't help that the broadband claims sound more like snake oil than technology.
Cisco returns us to yesteryear with IMS and the PSxN? 09-Mar-2010 Cisco seems to identify with its large customers in trying to maintain their control over our ability to communicate.
Re: [IP] ] Laptops in the classroom -- a reverse of direction 09-Mar-2010 Wouldn't it better to teach students how to learn rather than forcing them to listen to boring lectures?
Apple's New Stance On 'Cookie Cutter' Apps: Add More Features Or Perish 07-Mar-2010 While many apps should be just web pages should Apple be deciding that for us?
Re: [Dewayne-Net] Verizon to FCC: Let Us Retire Copper 04-Mar-2010 If Verizon is going to "retire" our copper shouldn't we get it back?
Nuclear War' in Patent Fight With HTC -- you can't run that App 03-Mar-2010 Apple is trying to control what it's users do while preventing others from competing.
Where’s the Internet? 28-Feb-2010 (Updated: 01-Mar-2010 PDFIf the Internet is about fungible bits and packets why do we distribute via a system that denies us the benefits of simplicity?
Re: NY Times on U.S. vs. Europe on Privacy and Google (and fragility) 28-Feb-2010 It's interesting to look at the basic issues like privacy vs. free speech in terms of how it affects society and economics
Re: Wi-Fi owner flips images for unwanted neighbors 26-Feb-2010 It's bad enough to characterize using an available path as stealing "Internet". It's far worse when clueless sociopathic vigilantes create the law with their own hands.
FW: [IP] So Where Else in the World Can You Get 1 Gbps to the Home? 21-Feb-2010 Once again a fixation on speed rather than availability leaves us disconnected almost everywhere.
HBO Shows Online Video Service HBOGO -- the world has changed 17-Feb-2010 HBO is now available over IP. I subscribe to HBO via Verizon but can use a Comcast connection to view the content. Content over IP is not new but until now HBO was available exclusively through silos.
Google Plans to Build Ultra High-Speed Broadband Networks 15-Feb-2010 Comments on Google's plan for 1GBps (a problem with mailing lists is that my response to this didn't get posted)
(Wireless) Innovation 14-Feb-2010 PDF(Wireless) innovation can't depend on grudging permission from the FCC.
Frankston’s Imperative 10-Feb-2010 (Updated: 11-Feb-2010 PDFI was challenged to explain my concepts in five minutes. Sheldon Renan came up with the term "Frankston's Imperative". I plan to post a written version of this talk in the near future. Very simply people communicate using a common infrastructure. It was different in the 1800's when private companies built a special infrastructure just to send telegrams. Today people use their own devices to communicate. The devices just exchange bits but the meaning is external to infrastructure. In the 1860's we sold telecom as a service. Today we need a common infrastructure funded as a whole.
Google Plans to Build Ultra High-Speed Broadband Networks -- my own analysis 10-Feb-2010 Google is pushing the edge of today's "telecom" business model.
As Data Flows In, the Dollars Flow Out 09-Feb-2010 NY Times story that highlights the burden "telecom" places on on famlies
Re: Broadband truth in advertising, redux 09-Feb-2010 Yet another reminder of how the cellular architecture might create scarcity.
A fight over freedom at Apple’s core 04-Feb-2010 A reminder of the "old" days when Apple was very open.
Re: The balance of power in airport security screening 04-Feb-2010 While we can lament the theater of airport security we become inured to each incremental change.
Things vs. NN 31-Jan-2010 We should be focusing on the future beyond telecom.
A bit of cellular pricing transparency 28-Jan-2010 T-Mobile gives you the option of transparent financing
Still kicking -- SNOBOL 24-Jan-2010 SNOBOL -- I remember it well
Speaking of jobs 15-Jan-2010 We need to come to terms with the changing nature of jobs as we did in the 1800's when sewing machines came on the scene.
re Who Confirms The Accuracy (or is it precision) Of ISP Usage [sic] Meters? 13-Jan-2010 We can measure bytes but that isn't the same thing as managing congestion. But focusing on the laments of the carriers ignores the larger issue of why we accept their framing of the problem.
On Ambient Connectivity (and 3G towers) 13-Jan-2010 Another reminder that cellular pricing is more about stories than costs.
Understanding Ambient Connectivity 09-Jan-2010 PDFYou walk around and you find Wi-Fi everywhere connected to abundant fiber and wires. Yet this abundance is locked away by a business model more suitable to 19th century telegraphy than 21st Internet Connectivity.
Re: U2's Bono suggests Chinese-style tracking of P2P users, etc. 04-Jan-2010 OhNo! Protecting free speech by violating it? Comstock redux.
Mythbusting the Obama Magic 04-Jan-2010 The myth that we can predict the future
Mythbusting the Obama Magic 04-Jan-2010 Leadership vs. dealing with complex problems
DEC celebrating its victory in personal computing 03-Jan-2010 It's useful to remember that DEC did indeed produce the best PC -- if by best you meant personal PDP-11.
Bob Frankston
Copyright 1997-2017