The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: reflection

21st Century Cryptanalyst

In chapter one of The Code Book, Simon Signh writes, “Cryptanalysis could not be invented until a civilization had reached a sufficiently sophisticated level of scholarship in several disciplines, including mathematics, statistics, and linguistics.” (p. 15) This is a valid point. However, the necessity of education to become a cryptanalyst during the period of deep reflection in 610 AD, has changed dramatically in the modern world.

600 AD was not, by any means, a time of accessible education. Ptolemy’s influence had just reached the world in 100 AD, and Brahmagupta, who developed rules for the mathematical applications of 0, was just becoming prominent. Some of our basic principles were still being discovered. Needless to say, not everyone could afford the luxuries of schooling, even in basic subjects. 

Today, we have much more than ever before. Public schooling is essentially available to all of the western world, and many more people have the ability to learn the disciplines required to be an amatur cryptanalyst without prestiguous schooling. The fact that we can now use the “on our own” approach to achieve what many long before us needed ages to accomplish, is not something that should be looked upon shamefully, but instead as an indication of how far society has come.


Learning from your pre-teen angst posts

“In other words, when participating in networked publics, many participants embrace a widespread public by default, private through effort mentality.” – (boyd 62)

I think this quote sums up the unofficial “terms of agreement” teens subconsciously accept when participating in social media. In the chapter, boyd argues that the amount of effort required to constantly monitor and have control over privacy settings is simply not worth it. I see this constantly when I scroll through Facebook, and it does to some extent irritate me when I see posts such as “hmu I’m bored” because I feel as though it’s “clogging” my feed. However, it is important to remember that when friending or following people, you consent to having their content appear in your feed, whether it be something you desire to see or not.

I think the issue that arises from this “public-by-default” mentality is not so much that privacy becomes suspicious, but rather that teens are unaware of all the smaller agreements involved when posting something to the “public”. For example, many teens feel frustrated if they have to manually unfriend someone, or clear their posts from years past in a tedious fashion, but they are forgetting that they are the ones who posted it in the first place. Admittedly, it is sometimes embarrassing to come across something you posted because at the time you believed it to be funny or quirky, but now just appears immature. However, I feel that that can serve as a valuable learning moment. While Shamika hiding her posts may save her drama or make it more difficult for antagonists to find evidence, she is losing out on a lesson that most teens must endure, which is learning by experience, in this case the experience being forced to reanalyze content you posted online in the past. Doing so will not only help teens filter their posts more cautiously in the future, but will also allow them to understand how they’ve matured or changed.



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