Monday, January 23, 2012

Lecture: The Enigma Machine

At Fractal’11 last April, author Kij Johnson gave an interesting lecture entitled The Enigma Machine: Writing, Typewriters, and Decoding the Truth.
During World War two, the German military sent information critical to the war through messages encoded and decoded on Enigma machines, small rotor machines that looked a bit like typewriters. A message encoded by an Enigma machine was nearly impossible to decode except with another Enigma machine.

Here’s another way to think of it: the Enigma was a typewriter that concealed and revealed the truth. Every writer works as an Enigma machine, using her typewriter (or computer keyboard or pen) to do the same things. This talk explores the ways a writer uses fiction to code and decode reality, lie and tell the truth.

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