Seat Belts and Passwords ... and Buggy Whips
By identity on May 13, 2009
However, the point we should emphasize is that buggy whips didn't fall from grace because people didn't like buggy whips. They faded away because they became irrelevant. It was far easier to use the accelerator in a car than to use a buggy whip to coax your horse to go faster.
Interestingly enough, one of the articles Dave referenced made essentially the same point. Speaking of the three-point seat belt developed by Nils Bholin of Volvo, William Escenbarger remarked,
"It was so simple that a driver or passenger could buckle up with one hand."
It was ease of use, not a technology-driven obsession with safety, that led to wide adoption of the seat belt.
I think we face the same thing with passwords. Intellectually, it is simple to understand why we should get rid of passwords. However, in practice, widespread adoption will be triggered more by ease of use than perception of safety. When an easier method for authentication emerges, people will adopt it - not because it is safer, but because it is easier. If that easier method is also more secure, voila! We will have achieved our desired result.
But until ease of use makes passwords irrelevant, people will continue to use buggy whips or drive without seat belts. How's that for mixing metaphors?
By the way, I'm the kind of guy who always buckles up but resents the government telling me I have to. Will it be the same with passwords?
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