Bradley Fidler

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Hello, World

I am a consulting historian of computing, which means I use historical analysis to improve outcomes for STEM and tech policy organizations and research projects. I specialize in the evolution of computer network protocols, architectures, security, and technical management.

I work as an Assistant Professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in the Science, Technology, and Society Program. Previously I was a researcher with the UCLA Computer Science Department. My background is in political economy, economic history, and the history of technology.


I have three book projects underway; manuscripts for the first two are nearly complete.

Inventing Protocol is under contract with The MIT Press with research support from the University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute (USC/ISI), where I am a Visiting Research Scholar. It is a historical investigation of the ontological systems that structure key Internet protocols (e.g. TCP, IP, UDP, EGP, BGP, DNS, SMTP, SNMP), as well as incremental changes and clean-slate redesigns.

The Creation and Technical Administration of Internet Identifiers is the first systematic study of Internet identifier management, from their origins in ~1967 through the recent IANA Stewardship Transition. It assesses the basis of legitimate authority in the technical administration of Internet names, numbers, and parameters (known as the IANA functions). Co-authored with Russ Mundy, introductionby Vint Cerf and Steve Crocker; Google and ICANN funding.

Anxiety continues my PhD research on how networked computation mediates the relationships between mental illness diagnostic categories and self.

Current Funded Research Projects

Mission Engineering and Multi-Domain Operations (Lockheed Martin): Multi-domain operations integrate communications between assets across multiple domains (e.g. subsea, sea, land, air, and space) as a coherent system-of-systems. This project will build and assess a virtual mission engineering simulation environment for distributed, multi-domain system design.

DNSSEC and the IANA Functions (Google): This study is an assessment of how the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions will incorporate the present and expanded technical and coordination requirements imposed by the Domain Name System Security Extensions. DNSSEC is designed to serve the security needs of other protocols Internet administration practices, and as such, it is crucial that its requirements be understood in advance.

Sociotechnical Metrics Frameworks for Network and Security Operation Centers (National Science Foundation) is funded by the Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program. Network and Security Operation Centers (SOCs) maintain network operations, security, and regulatory compliance on enterprise networks. SOC workers use metrics to understand network monitoring data, and management uses them to regulate SOC labor. Fellow PI Alex Bardas and I are investigating a new class of metrics frameworks that integrate labor and infrastructure in a single sociotechnical system.

Visualizing the Evolution of Internet Identifiers (ICANN): This project is creating a comprehensive dataset of node/edge relationships to capture and visualize the system of authorities that regulates Internet identifier maintenance, assignment, and reservation, from their origins in 1967 until 2017. This project will allow for new pedagogical and analytical approaches to Internet governance, and contribute to wider efforts to quantify and visualize large-scale technical systems.

Recent and Upcoming Publications

My recent publications are listed, in their least un-updated form, at Google Scholar.

Political Values in Technical Systems: Reconsidering IETF Human Rights Protocol Considerations is a paper that Farzaneh Badiei and I are writing. We presented it at IETF 104.

Adapting the Internet to the COVID-19 Crisis: Early Findings from a Security Operations Center, is a paper on reconfiguring enterprise networks to suit the qualitative shifts in Internet use brought on by the pandemic.

The Origins of Bindings is a paper on the evolution of binding architectures that I aim to publish this year.

Recent Blog Posts

Capitalism, Computation, and Causality: A Slide From A Talk That Was Given

New Research: Mission Engineering and Multi-Domain Operations

Joining the Editorial Board of Internet Histories

Other Things

Internet Histories: Digital Technology, Society, and Culture is an international, inter-disciplinary peer-reviewed journal concerned with research on the cultural, social, political and technological histories of the internet and associated digital cultures, and I am on the editorial board.

Teaching: I have developed and taught courses on Computing and Capitalism, Internet Politics and Protocols, and Cyberspace and National Security. I am developing a new course on foundational principles in computer science, co-taught with Stevens Software Engineering, and another on the intersection of psychopharmacology markets and computation.

Quantum: I’m working with an interdisciplinary group of physicists, computer scientists, and social scientists on a new quantum internet project.