Saturday, October 01, 2005

Re: What Email Needs

Hi Ed,

Just read (part 1 of) your "What Email Needs" and was wondering...

You pose the question of why so few Email users actually use encryption, despite it being a very trivial exercise in popular MUAs.

Further to your musings, I'd suggest you consider the "but they can read it anyway" factor. Ever watched _any_ (reputedly) technologically advanced/informed dramatic TV show or movie (think 24, The Matrix, etc)? Ever noticed how the "good guys" always and bad guys occasionally (in fact, usually only if it is helpful to plot development) can guess any password (usually in less than five tries, or within seconds of some crucial deadline arriving) or break _any_ encryption system (with the application of some suitably "techie sounding" nonsense technology)?

Ever wondered what that does to Joe and Jane Public's perception of the value of using encryption?


Actually, I think encryption is used so little in Email mainly because the general populace really does not understand the abysmal _LACK_ of fitness to purpose that modern computers and their software (in their default configurations) provide. If our car manufacturers had been allowed a fraction of the leeway the computer industry enjoys in terms of providing "sloppy" products, the Pinto might well have been seen as the paragon of safety... Of course, the difference between cars and general purpose programmable computers of the kind that we seem to insist on foisting on folk is that the latter are immensely (in fact, "immeasurably") more complex, meaning that Joe and Jane Public are never going to have sufficient specialist knowledge to "properly" (and that subsumes "safely") use them. Cars are just soooo "dumb" in comparison, which is reflected in the level of car-specific knowledge necessary for their widespread, successful use.

This is not a "beat the luser" rant, but more a statement of disgust for the way the computer industry treats its customers...


Nick FitzGerald

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