- A person employed to encipher and decipher secret messages for an employer. This professional term was in use for a short time during the Renaissance in Venice. 1
- A copper merchant living in Ur, Mesopotamia during the 18th c. BCE, who is known mainly because of written complaints about the poor quality of his product. 2
So, what do medieval Venetian cryptologists and ancient copper merchants have to do with SCA classes?
A Modern Twist on the Cifristi
I Cifristi di Ea-Nasir is a Special Interest Group established to grow the SCA Webministry at all levels, Society-wide. It is a grassroots initiative to provide training and support to those who would like to serve as Webministers but feel they lack the necessary expertise.
Both those who can provide training and support and those who need training and support are eligible and welcome here. It takes both types of people to make this work.
Offered classes that are very technical and narrow in scope will only be advertised in the email list. Classes that may be of interest to the wider SCA Populace may be advertised in local and regional discussion lists.
A secondary purpose of the group is to serve as a pool of tech-savvy members who can collaborate on developing technical solutions to serve SCA operational needs. Those interested in gaining and sharpening skills for this purpose are also very welcome.
Periodically, virtual hack-a-thons will be held to facilitate focused collaboration and provide opportunities for those who wish to expand their skills to work alongside and learn from more skilled volunteers.
A hack-a-thon may be broadly-scoped - allowing participants their choice of project, or it may be more narrowly-scoped - with the goal of moving a specific project forward.
Participants of all skill levels are welcome. After all, Quality Assurance testing and authoring user documentation are important parts of any development project.
Who may Join?
At minimum, to join this group you should be regularly participating (guideline: monthly or more often) with a local SCA branch - attending the branch’s weekly activities, monthly business meetings, or other local activity.
How to Join
And the Answer Is..
And the name? Well, the Cifristi of Venice were encoding text to hide it from prying eyes. Modern code-wranglers encode text into instructions for the machines that generate our web sites and web apps. To the casual observer, those instructions can have the appearance of encoded messages. The Ea-Nasir angle is a reference to the copper that has been - and largely still is - the backbone of the Internet, especially in locations where most of us interface with it - our homes and workplaces.
The Professionalization of Cryptology in Sixteenth-Century Venice, Ioanna Iordanou, 2018, Cambridge University Press ↩︎