Best of 2016

Thank you for reading my work in 2016, and I look forward to offering you more fresh thinking in 2017. Here is a summary of the content I have produced in the past year. If you find value in what I write, the best gift you can give to me in return is to ask your colleagues to sign up.

Emerging technology

Let’s start with the sexy stuff this year. I’ve covered Hyperties as cloud travel adaptors, why SDN is not enough, how to deliver SD-QoSRINA as a replacement for TCP/IP, the clever (if a bit strange) Verbol Voice and (brazenly!) The Future of Everything.

Engineering and computer science

Broadband engineering is vaguely comparable to medieval cathedrals: when they stay up, it’s really impressive; and when they don’t, well, whoops! To make progress the Internet needs standard computational interfaces, a security and performance upgrade, and mature engineering processes.

The kind of computer science I like tends to be pretty hardcore, and so is a minority intellectual sport. That said, I’ve had a chance to reflect on ISP service semantics, the missing theory of information translocatability, why networking is not a natural science, how we employ confusing terminology, and the fallacies of network scaling.

Quality management systems

At the moment, the typical broadband service quality and user experience are not under strong operator control. Things will improve as quality systems become fashionable, and we apply proven management theory established in other industries. This will lead to a great telco quality transformation as we rethink our quality management systems.

The essential enabler is increased visibility and control over the experience, with an example shown by measuring Internet quality between Russia and Europe.

Policy and economics issues

Recent musings have covered your voice privacy debt (it’s even worse than your credit card), whether BT should be broken up (perhaps), and why broadband speed tests suck (quantity is not quality).

“The answer is ‘money’. Now, what is your question?” quips one industry colleague. To address this, I considered how to wring out all the value from business assets, new revenue models for the ‘software telco’, and what to do if we ever hit a real crisis that caused big telecoms trouble.

Net neutrality is still nuts

One area of human regulatory endeavour proves an endless wellspring of regulatory stupidity and human foolishness. This year has been a vintage year for ‘net neutrality’ policy nonsense. That’s saying something, as this is a topic that I have been presciently covering for ten years.

Both the EU’s BEREC and the US FCC failed their basic technical competence tests at understanding how broadband works. The basic issue is the problem has been improperly framed: broadband is not just “carriage”, and we need to think about human morality instead of packet neutrality.

To bring these theory issues to life, we dwelled on two example: the hypothetical one of Notflix – Your streaming-free ISP with the best QoE, and the very real one of T-Mobile’s “Binge On” service.

All this craziness has resulted in a broadband regulation nightmare. So how can we get beyond ‘neutrality’? We need reality-based broadband regulationthat is grounded in science. For Stanford law professors struggling with the basics of network performance I can recommend my net neutrality reading list.

This includes the real reason why network ‘neutrality’ is impossible, why the Internet ‘virtuous circle’ theory is broken, and the misunderstood and ignored labyrinth of luck.

Debunking of dunces

Whilst we are on a bit of a downer, I also let rip at the GSMA for falsely declaring mobile is everything and Twitter for having too much media, and not enough social. More broadly, I addressed the challenge of compassion for charlatans (as telecoms suffers from rather a lot of them in the policy arena).

Human affairs and futurism

Over time my interests have grown beyond the narrow confines of technology to include a wider view of the human condition. My take is that the future increasingly belongs to polymaths and game changers.

My growing interest in technology futurism has led me to consider our journey from beasts to superheroes to gods, as we use intelligent machines for human wellbeing. To make this real we will need a new Human Operating System with a new browser, the Guardian Avatar.

The pragmatic implementation of this new paradigm for computing is Wellness as a Service, as explained in the Hyper Wellbeing manifesto. This offers a prelude to my copious Hyper Wellbeing conference notes.


I conducted three interviews in 2016:

You are also welcome to read my Best of 2012Best of 2013, and Best of 2014 and Best of 2015 newsletters.

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