The internet is incredible in every sense of that word, defined variously as “so implausible as to elicit disbelief; not credible; astonishing, extraordinary; surpassing the possibility of belief as to what is possible; unimaginable; inconceivable; too extraordinary and improbable to admit of belief; marvelous; fabulous; amazing; awe-inspiring; profoundly affecting” etc.
But of course the internet is not literally incredible today — because it actually exists and therefore is not a matter of belief. However just a few decades ago it would have been incredible in the literal sense of the word. If someone had claimed as recently as the mid-1980s that in a few decades the average human would be carrying in his hands a device (costing a couple of hundred $$) which would be more powerful than the existing supercomputers (which cost hundreds of millions of $$), and that he would have access to a vast store of audio, video, text and graphics information, and have the ability to communicate with billions of others in an instant for practically zero (marginal) cost, that someone would have been considered slightly nutty, if not outright delusional. The revolution in computing and communications technologies have transformed the world beyond anyone’s imagination. Continue reading →
A few days ago on Oct 14th, Rajesh Jain was at “The Next Billion” event of Quartz India in New Delhi. Rajesh spoke with Bobby Ghosh, editor in chief of Quartz Events. Rajesh spoke about the need for a new constitution for India — the point that Rajesh and I had made in an article in Quartz earlier.
“Every time you pick up a phone, dial a number, write an email, make a purchase, travel on the bus carrying a cell phone, swipe a card somewhere, you leave a trace, and the government has decided that it’s a good idea to collect it all, everything, even if you’ve never been suspected of a crime.”
That revelation is actually from a second interview given by former Central Intelligence Agency and former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, this time to German broadcast giant ARD.
And even though ARD is the second largest public broadcaster in the world (after the British Broadcasting Company), and Snowden’s message easily unearths the largest violations of the Constitution by the US to date, our dinosaur media does not believe this is mainstream enough to cover.
To be clear, you cannot find the 30-minute interview – released via the international video-sharing site LiveLeak on Jan. 27 – on one single American news outlet.”
One of my favorites, Beethoven’s 9th symphony is his final complete symphony. Composed between 1822 and 1824, it is considered to be his finest and some even think that it is the greatest composition in the Western classical music canon. In the final movement of the choral symphony, the chorus sings the words to Friedrich Schiller’s poem “An die Freude” (composed 1785). Beethoven conducted the symphony when it premiered. He was totally deaf by that time and so he had to see the ovation that followed, rather than hear it. Continue reading →
Once in a while, among the hundreds of TED videos, I come across a delightful gem. Chip Kidd is entertaining. Though the delivery is that of a fine stand-up comedian, his message is serious and insightful. I learned a lot from this one.
I can never stop marveling at the wonder that the great big classroom in the skies, the WWW, is. Take a bunch of computers, link them up with high speed communications link, create standards and protocols, and let people do what they feel like doing with it — then watch as magic happens. Sure a lot of serious stuff happens on the web — from commerce to scientific research — but I think that the more interesting thing is that it allows people to play. It is the world’s biggest playground. Continue reading →
The last time I had mentioned the Higgs boson in connection with the naming of the particle. But what is the Higgs boson? Particle physics is hard to comprehend because it deals with the extremely small. We, middle-sized creatures, are not equipped to comprehend the infinitesimally small or the infinitely large. Moreover, them itty-bitty things lie in the domain of quantum mechanics — which according to Feynman, if you believe you understand QM then it means that you actually don’t. QM is useful but incomprehensible. Thus, human comprehension is not a precondition for human utility. Also, although there’s little utility in it, attempting to comprehend advances in high energy physics can be fun. So here’s something just for fun. Continue reading →
Dear old Hans Rosling can always be depended upon to teach while making the lesson interesting and fun. I am confident that one day everyone will realize what an amazing machine the world wide web is and how it can be the answer to our educational problems. But for now, sit back, and watch this amazing man do what he does best — lift the veil of ignorance and reveal a little bit of what lies beneath. And most of all, remind us to mind the gap. The video is below the fold: Continue reading →