Footnote 2


When you look at it, the obsession with encryption in net.geek culture is eerily similar to the early alchemists' fetishization of secret languages. Both groups were and are fascinated with turning gibberish into understandable language or, more significantly, vice versa. As crypto-historian David Kahn points out, some of the earliest cryptograms were created to conceal supposedly "magic" manuscripts, such as the making of philosophers' stones.

So maybe it isn't surprising that the very substance of software is a language referred to as "code." The very word puts secrecy at the heart of our everyday computer programs. For even further, and freakier, evidence, check out the fine print on your next piece of commercial software. Specifically, check the part that says you're committing a federal crime if you make any part of the software "human perceivable."