W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-credentials@w3.org > April 2020

Re: Question on use of base64 vs base64url in modern specifications

From: Orie Steele <orie@transmute.industries>
Date: Sun, 26 Apr 2020 13:48:21 -0500
Message-ID: <CAN8C-_JdTs3oPV3Q4z-KeYfd+2TcobH9ox9gmUe46xDE8Dd+4w@mail.gmail.com>
To: Dmitri Zagidulin <dzagidulin@gmail.com>
Cc: "W3C Credentials CG (Public List)" <public-credentials@w3.org>
for the exceedingly rare cases where someone is reading string
characters... why not make an encoding called
"exceedinlyRareStringEncoding" and require it to come with built in error
correction / checksum, and only use it for cases where you 100% know it
will only be read by humans... that's not how base58 is being used today...

make a new encoding, name it "human readable string encoding 2020" "HuRSE
2020", use the base58 bitcoin alphabet with error correction codes and a
checksum... and don't use it for anything but cases where a human will 100%
be required as the "reader"...

I'm all for a special purpose encoding that is built for human
readability!... just don't tell me that the best way to achieve it is a
special bitcoin alphabet... its vicegrips when what is needed is a socket
wrench... sure you can use vicegrips on everything... but should you?


On Sun, Apr 26, 2020 at 1:22 PM Dmitri Zagidulin <dzagidulin@gmail.com>

> IMO, saying it's "multicodec / multibase" is about a billion times better
>> than saying "its base64 / base58".
> Absolutely agree there. Multicodec and multibase are, I think, a must, in
> terms of clarity, future-proofing, and so on.
> I do want to say something about the merits of base58 for all key
> representations and anything DID-related. Also, I agree with your 3 layer
> approach. Except that to me, 3rd layer is not optional.
> > Layer 3 represents why i dislike base58... who cares if "I" and "l" look
> similar...
> We care. We *all* care, eventually. Because despite all of our best
> actions to prevent humans from ever dealing with raw key material or DIDs
> (and we *should* do our best to prevent that, it should always be mediated
> by convenient software)... there WILL come a point where you're typing in
> your key or DID or whatever, from backup. You WILL be reading that
> gobbledygook string to your uncle over the phone. Yes, those cases will be
> exceedingly rare. But when they do happen, you will be intensely glad that
> you can tell a lowercase L from an uppercase i.

Chief Technical Officer

Received on Sunday, 26 April 2020 18:48:45 UTC

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