> ... it does look very much from the outside that there is an
> informal "Cryptographers Guild" in place...

The Guild, such as it is, is a meritocracy; many previously unknown
people have joined it since I started watching it in about 1990.

The way to tell who's in the Guild is that they can break your protocols
or algorithms, but you can't break theirs.

While there are only hundreds of serious members of the Guild -- a
comfortable number for holding conferences on college campuses -- I
think just about everyone in it would be happier if ten times as many
people were as involved as they are in cryptography and security.
Then ten times as many security systems that everybody (including the
Guild members) depends on would be designed properly.  They certainly
welcomed the Cypherpunks to learn (and to join if they were serious
enough).

I consider myself a Guild Groupie; I don't qualify but I think
they're great.  I follow in their footsteps and stand on their shoulders.

Clearly there are much larger numbers of Guild Groupies than Guild
members, or Bruce Schneier and Neal Stephenson wouldn't be able to
make a living selling books to 'em.  :-)

        John

PS: Of course there's whole set of Mystic Secret Guilds of
Cryptography.  We think our openness will defeat their closedness,
like the free world eventually beat the Soviet Union.  There are some
good examples of that, such as our Guild's realization of the
usefulness of public-key crypto (we reinvented independently, but they
hadn't realized what a revolutionary concept they already had).  Then
again, they are better funded than we are, and have more exemptions
from legal constraints (e.g. it's hard for us to do production
cryptanalysis, which is really useful when learning to design good
cryptosystems).

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