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2010-11-22 // // Technology // Forgot Your Password? // Assignment


Passwords are the locks of the information age. In spite of their importance to our personal security, many people use overly simple passwords to make them easier to remember.

We all have personal information we always remember but few others could guess. What is missing is a system to connect this easily remembered information with complex passwords.


Tactile Passwords uses answers to security questions to generate and store secure passwords.

Six letters are assigned to six colors by placing color-coded pieces around letter blocks. Rows of randomly placed colored blocks act as visual password reminders with each color designating a letter. By removing all the letter blocks while leaving the other the pieces, the passwords are kept secure. Replacing the letter blocks later reveals the passwords.

Since letters are assigned to the colors randomly, the system cannot be hacked. Only the answers to the security questions will reveal your passwords.


We were given the assignment of choosing two objects based on technology, one analog and one digital, that we associated with trust in some way. For my digital technology I chose a hard disk drive and for my analog technology I chose a lock.

Hard drives come standard in just about every computer made today because of their ability to store an incredibly large amount of information in a small space. Unfortunately, they are inherently unreliale. In fact, every hard drive will eventually fail. It's a question of "when" not "if." As for locks, the connection between them and trust is so obvious and unavoidable that I wanted to investigate further and try to figure out what social and psychological issues surround them.

Through variety of research including reading, writing, sketches, and diagrams I began to discover that some reoccuring ideas. There appeared to be some sort of fundemental principles underlying how information storage and locking systems work. While I had found something like basic laws of locks and information, these two sets of laws were still indendent of each other. I noticed some common points, so I started to look for principles to connect locks and information storage together.

The outcome of this process of merging the ideas behind locks and information was a set of three principles of lock and three of information that match each other and show the similarities between locks and information.


Principle 1:
All locks are codes which are useless against those who understand the pattern.

Principle 2:
Any form of information can be a lock, provided it acts as a barrrier.

Principle 3:
All locks are designed to be effective against a specific group of people.


Principle 1:
All information is a code which is meaningless for those who do not understand the pattern.

Principle 2:
Any form of information can be represented by any controllable pattern.

Principle 3:
All information is designed to be understood by a specific group of people.