Playing Hard to Get: Hard Technology and ” Captcha Code “


The definition going around is that CAPTCHA helps protect you from spam and password decryption by asking you to complete a simple test that proves you are human and not a computer trying to break into a password protected account.


Almost 40 minutes of my time earlier today was on my bank’s online banking site trying to create a new user name and password( because I had forgotten them- vagaries of old age) and at the end of it I was harshly shunted out saying that I exceeded the number of attempts for the day to write the captcha code shown on the screen. How remiss (human) of me!


Methinks that the idea behind the captcha code is to make things so convoluted and difficult, that you will never get it right in the first few attempts. And it gets some sadistic pleasure at you having failed multiple times. I know there is an audio option as well(other than the image captcha) but who wants the person on the next table hear the emotionless cacophony emanating from a robotic voice.


I’m sure that the team who worked on creating a secure platform for whatever(including the transfer of billions of dollars of transactions) was proud of the hard work they did. As to how hard they made things for the user. So much for user experience. It’s incredibly impersonal.


No, I am not suggesting that you change the access process  to typing in ” the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”, but make things that you look forward to doing. Like type in the 5 words that make you happy- fun, comedy, laughter, jokes, friends- make it memorable and engaging rather than have a graphical juggernaut that is designed to fail and discourage you. I am not even going into situations where 0 reads like O or vice versa or 1 reads like I. I understand it is a binary world and o and 1 have to be put in their place. I mean literally only.


The same system that is testing whether you are human is completely oblivious of the fact that humanity and technical issues can overlap. To everyone’s benefit.


If the busy but blindered tech guys love throwing curve balls at you, imagine the plight of the differently abled who feel all at sea as they get completely shunted aside by someone deciding for them what is important. First suspect, then with great difficulty, contemplate to respect, albeit condescendingly.


A captcha that doesn’t work, machine learning that claims to but never learns and systems that doesn’t help the people who need them. Technology that is unhelpful, is still very much part of our zeitgeist, unfortunately.


Homework: try reading and filling in the label that is stuck in a remote hard to read and access portion at the bottom of your microwave oven to apply for your warranty online…



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