It’s a funny time, right now. We’re in the midst of probably the largest international political crisis in the last decade – and nobody seems to care. (And it’s not just because this crisis doesn’t really have a name yet.)

Similarly, we’ve hit 400ppm CO2 earlier this yet. That number is the one that was supposed to the limit. With 400ppm we’d only have a warming effect of 2°C. Similarly, people don’t seem to care.

Maybe that’s just me, but the work I’ve done over the last 5 years on Smart Metering, In-Home energy interventions and raising awareness about electricity issues (be honest: do you know you annual electricity consumption?) bears a striking resemblance to our current situation in terms of cryptography and general information security.

In both cases we’ve developed an environment where the easiest, most convenient option is to not care. We’ve managed to design the default options, those which the vast majority of people will take, to be completely irresponsible.

Whenever I talk about email crypto to people, I hear back the same story, even from the self-proclaimed geeks: it’s too hard, and too unusable.1 And with that defence even they themselves will absolve themselves from their responsibility to care. It’s the same with in-home energy displays: in the odd chance that people were actually interested in the things in the first place, they quickly lost interest, because they couldn’t be bothered and it became boring. Because the default is still to simply ignore the thing.

These are hard problems.

These are really hard problems.2

We need to change those defaults. We need to change what the easy, mindless option is into something more responsible. If you take the “work on stuff that matters”-mantra serious, this is what you need to work on.

  1. It’s as if people had never heard of GPGTools 

  2. Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult 

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