The future of PKI
I just received a catlog from Hammacher Schlemmer in the mail. This catalog has all sorts of interesting things in it that I'll never be able to afford. Like the $12,500 85 Foot Inflatable Military Obstacle course.
One of the few things that I might actually be able to afford if I cut back on food for a few weeks is their $119.95 Classic Manual Typewriter. Here's how they describe this fine gadget:
This is the classic manual typewriter that recalls the thoughtful, well-written correspondence of yesteryear. Devoid of technological crutches such as spell-check and deletion, each of its 44 keys require a firm, purposeful touch for a steady click-clacking cadence that encourages the patient, considered sentiment of a wordsmith who thinks before writing. Not refurbished, it is a newly manufactured machine whose 10-characters-per-inch Pica 87 font, 88 symbols, seven tab stops, adjustable line spacing, and backspace key deliver the satisfaction of the permanent written word that today's electronics cannot duplicate.
When I read this I thought that I didn't quitre remember typewriters as being worthy of this description. I think that we just tolerated them because there was no better alternative at the time. And from that thought it wasn't much of a leap to thinking the same thing about various information security technologies.
Like PKI, for example.
Back in the dot-com era I used digital certificates to sign and encrypt email. This didn't really seem that bad at the time, but then that was the only way to do it back then. Sort of like how manual typewriters didn't seem so bad at one time because there was no better alternative.
One big difference, of course, is that I'll probably never be in a museum and have to explain to people exactly what that digital certificate on display is and what it was used for.