by JP Buntinx
Cryptography is an integral part of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether. Albeit this technology is very important regarding security and the future of technology. This is where PocketBlock comes into the picture, which serves as a visual and gamified curriculum. The creator hopes this concept will engage students young and old with cryptographic engineering.
PocketBlock is An Interesting Concept
PocketBlock is an intriguing initiative, developed by cryptographer Justin Troutman. PocketBlock is a visual syntax for cryptographic engineering, accessible to everyone. The entire process is presented in a visual and gamified version, which makes it easier to understand how things work. Students will also be able to convert ciphertext back into plaintext.
For now, the majority of functions students can execute are very basic. But getting involved in cryptography should not be overly complicated, even though the concept is very technical in nature. Everyone has to start with the basics, and basic mathematics are a good place to start. At the same time, this initiative will go much more in-depth compared to other cryptographic efforts aimed at a younger audience, namely children aged eight and above.
Justin Troutman explained PocketBlock as follows:
“The goal of this narrative, interactive-fiction-esque component is to gamify things even more, by having players both build and break ciphers in order to level up. They’ll need to build ciphers in order to set up secure and private communication, break ciphers in order to read secret messages, and forge new ones. Completing missions will depend heavily on keeping their secrets safe while learning the secrets of their opponents.”
While the target demographic for PocketBlock is children aged eight and older, older generations can still get involved and have fun exploring this initiative. It is approachable by anyone, which makes PocketBlock a very powerful educational tool. The project has been trialed throughout a handful of workshops, and it has seen great success so far.
Focusing On Cryptography In An Approachable Manner
Pockenacci is the first “entry” in the PocketBlock series. This particular encryption scheme focuses on explaining how a block cipher works. While still being very approachable by people of all ages, Pockenacci lets users verify if their encrypted message has been tampered with or not.
Over the next few months and years, PocketBlock will be expanded to an interactive application for mobile devices. Additionally, Troutman also wants to add an interactive fiction environment where users can test their cryptographic skills on “missions”. All things considered, this sounds like a great concept to make cryptography look far more appealing.
This is also good news for the cryptocurrency world, as cryptography is an integral part of the ecosystem. Pocketblock can therefore contribute to the development of future generations of cryptographers. Interested parties can take a look at the PocketBlock curriculum, which is free and open sourced on GitHub.