[openpgp] My anthropological research on OpenPGP

Sylvain Besençon <sylvain.besencon@unifr.ch> Mon, 08 March 2021 09:15 UTC

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Subject: [openpgp] My anthropological research on OpenPGP
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Dear OpenPGP community,

I hope this finds you all well!

My name is Sylvain Besençon (but you can also call me sylvi - easier to
pronounce!) and I'm doing a PhD in anthropology at the University of
Fribourg, Switzerland. I am writing to this ML to let you know about my
research on maintenance and innovation practices around OpenPGP.

I've already met some of you, but as I'd like to follow up the crypto
refresh work that you started, I thought it would be better to send
this email to make you know about my research and my interest in
following your work! :)

The (very) general question I try to address in my PhD is: how is
information security made and unmade, by whom, and through what kind of
processes? To (partly) answer this question, I started to focus on the
crypto community and in particular on the case of OpenPGP because I
find its history and current development fascinating: among others, its
age (30 years this year! \o/), the many controversies, and most of all
the collective effort to refresh the standard and maintain its
implementations. As you see, I am not so much interested in the users'
experience but rather in your work, as cryptographers and coders who
discuss the standard and implement it. I'm curious about how to
(re)design such an old protocol, what it means to "take care" of it,
and all this mostly invisible work done to maintain it.

Of course, I'd be happy to answer any of your questions, but I don't
want this email to be too long, so I will just send a few more links
and cut it here. There's a paper that my supervisor and I wrote which
uses the efail disclosure as a case study to discuss our methods [1].
There's also a podcast that I recorded during a conference last year
[2]. And finally, there's also a platform where you can see (and
comment) some of my work [3].

[1] https://bop.unibe.ch/Tsantsa/article/view/7103
[3] https://cva.unifr.ch/

And one more thing: during the IETF meetings I will attend, I will take
some notes and use the presentation material, but I won't record any
things. I may quote my notes or some parts of what was said in upcoming
publications, but this will be anonymized. Of course, I'd be happy to
discuss with you if you have any objection or if you don't feel at
Or simply if you're curious about my work! So please, feel free to
contact me! :)

Best wishes, and have a nice IETF week!

Sylvain Besençon ▪︎ Assistant diplômé
Unité anthropologie sociale
Université de Fribourg
Bld. de Pérolles 90, CH-1700 Fribourg
Bureau G320 | tel +41 26 300 78 46
PGP:	9584 92A9 80DC C8FE F5C5
	EE91 56F7 ACD4 B1FD E56F

Platform for Experimental and Collaborative Ethnography: