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RUSI and all that

By Dave Birch posted Jul 1 2008 at 12:19 PM

[Dave Birch] One (!) of the conferences I spoke at last week was the Royal United Service's Institute's conference on Science and Technology for Homeland Security and Resilience. I decided to put my original presentation about ID card technology to one side and go with my new psychic ID card slides. If you're at all curious, the slides are here...

There were a couple of tough questions -- mostly around "why bother with an ID card at all" -- but on the whole the people there were very nice to me, and prepared to listen to what I suppose must seem like a fairly radical idea if you are from a conventional security background.

As the comments on the original blog post seem to indicate, I think I've stumbled on a useful way of describing an alternative form of identity card. I've been writing it up in more detail for a journal, so hopefully I can address some of those issues as I go along with the "psychic rewrite", by which I mean that I'd already prepared a paper on how to use smart cards, mobile phones and so on to create new kind of identity card, but I'm currently rewriting it to use the Dr. Who framing as it does seem to speak to people far more effectively than any of my previous attempts.

I'm serious about taking the Dr. Who message out to everyone! It may seem a little odd to base a major piece of national infrastructure on a children's TV series, but I was at a seminar about the ID scheme today and once again I was made to think about how to present complex ideas about the future of identity and it seems to me that Dr. Who is as good as any framework. Interestingly, it seems as if I may not be the only person to look in this direction. Look at this fan forum suggestion from January 2007...

Dialogue joke about wishfulfillment of Doctor Who's Psychic I.D. card he flashes in Season 3, and how that's the future of ID cards...

[From BBC - collective - Torchwood Think Tank]

What is it that makes Dr. Who such a perfect mechanism for explaining technology to the public? I think there are three key factors that U.K. readers will recognise. First of all, we all grew up with Dr. Who, so it engenders warm nostalgia. Now, obviously, there's an age-related component to this. My favourite monsters were the cybermen and I always wanted to be Brigadier-General Lethbridge-Stewart, so that gives my age away, but my kids look forward to it every week just as I did. Secondly, because the scriptwriters are skilled at engaging a non-technical audience we can piggyback on their imagery to interact with that same audience. And finally, because it's fun!

These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]


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