Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Shape of the Future

This is the shape of the future. The link above is to an AP news story about a meeting of the International Standards Organization (ISO) in Czechoslovakia, trying to hammer out an international agreement on a modification to the existing standard for encryption: IEEE 802.11. It unfortunately has some security holes, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, which developed the original standard, came up with IEE 802.11i, a modification to address the problem. IEEE is an international professional group, but is based in the U.S. The Chinese government backed a group of Chinese engineers, with military backgrounds, who came up with different protocols, called WAPI. The Chinese delegation has been pressing to have their new standard adopted instead of the existing one, and walked out during the opening of the 2 day session:

...escalated an already rancorous struggle by China to gain international acceptance for its homegrown encryption technology known as WAPI. It follows Chinese accusations that a U.S.-based standards body used underhanded tactics to prevent global approval of WAPI.

"In this extremely unfair atmosphere, it is meaningless for the Chinese delegation to continue attending the meeting," the Standardization Administration of China delegation said in a statement carried by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Go to the full article for more. What is interesting to me is that this struggle over the adoption of an encryption standard is a magic mirror showing us the shape of the world to come. We have lived in a NA/Eurocentric world for so long, it will be a shock to have new and powerful players at the table. China is already strong enough to shake this piece of the dog; it will not be long before it can wag much more.

We already know in the U.S. it's time to brush up your Spanish skills. Now we had better find time to learn Mandarin! Visit the excellent, and entertaining introduction to Chinese things, including spoken and written language at That is where this beautiful painting of Emperor Tai-Tsung, Tang Dynasty (626-649). Both the dragon motif and the yellow color are restricted to the royalty only.

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