So why am I writing again?

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So why am I writing again? As I said on my “About Scott” page, I have been writing for years, both creatively and scientifically. However, it had been several years since I had really done any creative writing. I had been doing a lot of writing, it just wasn’t creative. And it sucked the joy of writing right out of me. Then a curios thing happened. While writing a paper for a research workshop in the summer of 2014, I let a little of my creative side slip out.

I was writing a paper on a new technique for cybersecurity, called the moving target defense. As motivation, I wrote about how pilots of a fighter jet used various maneuvers to defend against an attacking plane. Then I penned the following paragraph.

If we compare cyber security with military combat, we look nothing like the defender in a dogfight. Instead of trying to out maneuver our attackers, we are simply content to wait and rely on outmoded techniques to survive the onslaught. We actually look much more like the defenders of the “impregnable” Maginot Line on the eve of World War II who waited in their bunkers relying on static defenses and “defense in depth.” It did not work well for the Allies in 1940 either.

I know its not much, but I was thrilled! I rewrote it several times before it was perfect. I actually felt like I had been truly creative for the first time in a long time. We went ahead and finished the rest of the paper and submitted it to the workshop to see if would get accepted. When the reviews came back I just had to laugh. Our paper received very good reviews and was accepted for publication and presentation at the workshop. But in the reviews was the comment

Remove Section 1.1, as it does little to add to the reader’s understanding.

Yes, Section 1.1 was my description of a dog fight and my favorite paragraph. To make it worse, the sentiment was echoed by more than one of the reviewers. What was I to do? The paper could have been improved technically by eliminating the section and adding more details and explanations. And I was supposed to update the paper based on the reviewer’s comments. But, the paper was already approved for publication, I was an established professor, I had tenure …

You will find my paragraph in the paper, Towards a Theory of Moving Target Defense. And my creative juices are flowing again!


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