Here's the primary difference, which is largely functional:
While it is true that all you are essentially doing is exchanging one set of symbols for another, there is a function involved which makes all the difference.
When you encode something the function is directly reversible, such that:
data * func = data`
data` * func = data
Of course, that's an oversimplification, but you get the idea. You use the same index chart for translating both ways.
encryption involves 2 functions:
data * func(yourPublicKey, myPrivateKey) = data`
data` * func(yourPublicKey, myPrivateKey) != data
Which is the point:
data` * func(yourPrivateKey, myPublicKey) = data
Wait! This isn't a Parachute, this is a Backpack!
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