How can it be made even easier!?

Mark H. Wood mwood at IUPUI.Edu
Mon Oct 12 17:32:13 CEST 2015

On Sun, Oct 11, 2015 at 05:34:41PM -0400, Jean-David Beyer wrote:
> On 10/04/2015 10:30 AM, Don Saklad wrote:
> > How can it be made even easier!?
> > 
> > Trying to encourage M.D.'s to use it is met with complaints about not
> > having time to learn about it. Set up is a too complicated sequence of
> > steps that aren't entirely clear. The steps can get hampered where there
> > aren't instructions that cover what to do when one of the steps goes
> > awry!
> > 
> Not just doctors. My lawyer has the same problem. She really needs
> signed e-mails and encrypted e-mails, but has not the time to learn all
> about how to install and use it.

Dare I suggest that people who need private and/or integrity-protected
email for professional use should hire a professional to interview
them, set up the software according to the client's standards for
professional practice, and explain its use?  (That would suppose that
one *can* find such people for hire.)

Doctors and lawyers shouldn't be doing such things for themselves --
they aren't trained for it, they don't have time for it, and much
rides on getting it right.  (I had added "and bankers", but banks have
whole departments devoted to securing records and communication, or
should.)  Doctors and lawyers hire accountants to set up their
financial subsystems, so why not hire experts to set up their
communication subsystems?

It probably comes down to getting the professions to squarely address
the problem of just what *are* their standards of professional
practice for secure electronic communication with their business
associates.  I get the sense that this is a problem which is being
studiously ignored because it is (a) hard and (b) deep in somebody
else's problem domain.

We should always be looking for ways to make things easier to use.
But there are limits to just how simple some processes can be made
before violence is done to the nature of the process and the utility
of its outcomes.  There *are* doctors and lawyers because medicine and
law are inherently hard problems requiring considerable expertise to
do well.  What is the limit of simplification of secure electronic
messaging imposed by its intrinsic difficulties?  We should be wary of
transgressing that limit in the name of further ease of use.  There
are already enough examples of systems which have been made so easy to
use that they should not be used at all.

Mark H. Wood
Lead Technology Analyst

University Library
Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis
755 W. Michigan Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
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