One year later and from what I can tell, no one has solved Kryptos.

If I had any new advice, one year later, it would be that if you have held onto some scheme that is near and dear to your heart but it hasn’t panned out and you still can’t let go… let go of it, it’s probably not the right way of solving it.  That brings us to something else I have learned though.  Maybe it will help us Kryptos-fanatics approach the problem obliquely.

Last year, WIRED writer Evan Ratliff vanished and basically dared people to find him.  The hunt to find him parallels our efforts with Kryptos.

I was contacted by someone via Twitter and was immediately hooked.  We’d get all of these clues and there were message boards and twitter posts and facebook groups.  We’d check in constantly through the day and people would actually physically travel to places and search.  In theory, we were all working together.  In practice, a large mass of people basically talked about looking for him and speculated.  Following the clues and trying to figure it out with the info given; it was tempting to believe that one could actually find him.  This would have proven impossible especially as we were not in control of the clues or had any way of understanding their significance in time to be able to use them.  The guy who caught him had some specialized experience, true.  I say caught but it was more of a situation of one man tricking Evan and then using that information to have someone else catch him.  The take home message however is that we are often caught up in the details we’ve been given and the endless derivations we can glean from them.  We cannot brute force a solution out of this, especially when we don’t have an excess of knowledge.

I don’t know how to achieve some circumspect solution effort but I am firmly convinced that we are missing some piece of data or some clue that would provide the key to solving K4.  If you read the CIA page on Kryptos and read the Wired Interview and read the transcript from NOVA with Jim Sanborn – you can sort of get a feeling that it’s not just about a piece of copper and the words on it.  Yes, we have the ciphertext to K4 and the translation for the other parts but it’s not enough.  As an internet community of hobbyists, we have pictures from only two people to work with.  That’s it.  Small wonder little progress has been made on deciphering it.  Just imagine if it was in your backyard or just outside your work and think of actually walking around it and looking at all the details and all of the angles.  Imagine following the direction of the compass or jiggling the lodestone.  Imagine eating a sandwich by the reflection pool.  Imagine just skulking around looking to see if there’s little bits hidden around.  Imagine being able to actually stand at the geographic coordinates and just look around.  Imagine being able to shine a light through the copperplate at night.

The single biggest reason no progress has been made on K4, ever, is that we only have what is online.  None of us can actually walk through the CIA and look around.  There may be some way to work around this hurdle but until then we can only hope to acquire new pictures, new data or some revelation from the CIA itself.

Keep trying on the ciphertext, but don’t don’t forget to go outside once in awhile either…