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The Encrypted Life of Astrid Farnsworth

rubikscube's picture

form {width:50%; min-width:300px; margin:2em auto; color:black; background:#bbb; padding:10px 10px 0 10px;}
form > fieldset {border:0; padding:0;}
form > fieldset > legend {font-size:1.5em; font-weight:bold;
font-style:italic;}<form method="post" action="" id="signup">
        <legend>Further information is encrypted</legend>
                <p>You must decipher the code and enter the hidden
                message to proceed to the next page of my notes.</p>
                <ul id="code">
                <li><span>Encrypted code:</span> eqhmfd rbhdmbd</li>
                <li><span>Decryption algorithm:</span> Replace each letter in the code
    with the next letter in the alphabet (also known as a
                "Caesar shift").</li>
<script type="text/javascript">
if (document.getElementById){
    document.getElementById("signup").onsubmit = checkForm;
From seeing this bit of code, you might think that this is a Serendip error. But actually, this code is information. Does it have meaning to you? I can find some meaning in it, since I wrote it using HTML, CSS, and Javascript. However, it is much easier to see its meaning through a web browser:
Lab Notes of Agent Astrid Farnsworth


Anne Dalke's picture


well, rubikscube--
I have to say that this experience of "decoding" a student paper is unlike any one I've ever had, in 30+ years of working in this business. Figuring out "CORTEXIPHAN" (before I finally figured out that it was a "fringe" experimental drug) about did me in. What frustration--and what fun!

And then, of course, comes the further nudging on: What "information" arises once your readers have gone through this process of deciphering the clever clues you've given us? What is the "meaning" of this encryption, for our larger project involving gender, information, science and technology? What have I learned (or might your classmates or other web readers learn) from submitting ourselves to this exercise? You have "created" something new, but in Hayles' terms, have you thereby "critiqued the mantra of critique"? Stopped the process of critique? Refused the activity of further meaning making? (there are those closed notebooks @ the end....) Re-encrypted a process of....?

Know that you have here a very curious reader, who would like to know more....