Every time I go to a website to make a comment or buy something, it asks me for my username and password. After a couple failed tries, my instinct is to give up — though my desire to be obnoxious or to participate in consumerism ultimately vanquish and I persist until I break through. But, man, what a pain.
I was reading this New York Times article with interest: “Logging In With a Touch or a Phrase.”
Passwords are a pain to remember. What if a quick wiggle of five fingers on a screen could log you in instead? Or speaking a simple phrase? Neither idea is far-fetched. Computer scientists in Brooklyn are training their iPads to recognize their owners by the touch of their fingers as they make a caressing gesture. Banks are already using software that recognizes your voice, supplementing the standard PIN.
A couple years ago I conducted a bunch of interviews with regular Madison folk about their use of the Internet, particularly as that use pertained to information actions and community engagement. One of my side findings had to do with passwords. The number one reason these people — and these included often those like journalists and bloggers — did not participate in online forums or other digital spaces? PASSWORDS. They try once, maybe twice, but who can keep track of all of them?
If we could resolve the password issues, I suspect the amount of civic participation in online deliberative spaces would significantly increase.
And then I imagine what our coffeeshops would look like with all of us waving at our computers. We’d all be thinking: “Now, was it a five-finger motion that I recorded? Or something more jaunty?” Even this solution, I predict, would ultimately involve some choice gestures.