Tetraktys debuted at the RSA Conference back in April in a pre-release event. It unfolded as a long festivity in which I was lucky to have my wife, my publishers from Emerald Bay Books, and numerous friends and colleagues at the conference join me. The book was on sale at the conference bookstore, and Good Harbor Consulting, Pacific Crest, and the RSA Conference generously offered copies as gifts to some attendees at various private receptions.
I don’t know how many people came away with copies (four hundred or so), but I hope it lightened the journey home for some of them. (I flew the San Francisco-Boston red-eye–like Ambrose in Tetraktys, but without the benefit of his youthful resilience. Somehow, the benefit of age and experience also eluded me. Why on earth did I fly the red-eye yet again?)
The largest conference event for me, though, was not book related.
Cryptographers' Panel (Click for Video)
It was the Cryptographers’ Panel, an annual keynote. Four founders of the field of modern cryptography participated: Whit Diffie, Martin Hellman, Ron Rivest, and Adi Shamir. Bruce Schneier, a popular writer on security and cryptography, also joined this year. Mine was an easy job: I just had to wind up these sterling panelists and let them go. (Given their polished dialogue, few would suspect how little advance preparation they needed.)
Bruce mentioned Tetraktys toward the end of the panel, with an incisive comment about the role of fiction in computer security. He suggested that fiction has a special, functional role in the exploration of ideas. I quite agree. Even academic / industrial research doesn’t challenge entrenched assumptions enough. In principle, it’s an exercise in free-wheeling hypothesis testing, a counterpoise to passing realities and faddish thinking. But research is a communal activity. As such, it places its own fetters on individual imagination. Bruce holds an annual Movie-Plot Threat Contest–another way to infuse the freedoms of fiction into our all-too-often hidebound exploration of fact.