I’ve been a bit quiet (in the ‘not-posting-much-on-the-blog’ sense of the word) of late, and thought I ought to say a bit about what’s going on, just in case you were worried I’d tripped and fallen headlong into an over-full boxfile of voracious Voynich Theories, never to be seen again. 🙂
Right now, the #1 thing filling my thoughts is a one-off lecture I’m due to give in three weeks’ time at the London Rare Book School summer seminar series. Basically, I’m covering the history of shorthand and ciphers: but rather than romantically twiddling around with unsolved mystery texts, what I’m aiming to get across is practical knowledge that historians can make direct use of when faced with a text in an unknown alphabet.
For all their span and depth, books like David Kahn’s “The Codebreakers” don’t really help in this regard: and anyway, to be perfectly honest, from where I’m sitting the history of cryptography now looks rather different. So right now it feels as if I’m having to build up a reasonably new kind of body of knowledge – practical cryptography for historians. All of which is probably why it has taken much more effort than I thought… oh well!
One nice thing is that I have a devilish (if somewhat small) new cipher mystery kindly sent through to me by Zodiac Cipher researcher Dave Oranchak to use as a worked example, which I’ll post about here very soon (I’ll also get round to mentioning Dave O’s shiny new Zodiac blog very shortly, I promise!)
I’m also scratching my head about what to do with another cipher-related mystery I’ve been working on. It all started out as a footnote, but the more I discover about it, the bigger and bigger it gets. Anybody know any film producers who want to tell the Second Greatest Story Ever Told?