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Showing posts from 2016

A land of no Trust

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With the advent of the Internet, as with the advent of all great technologies in the past, we have witnessed a slow, but noticeable transformation of our understanding of fundamental human and social values. That is not to say that our values themselves have changed - though I can understand people making claims otherwise - but the way we perceive, evaluate, and understand traditional values certainly seems to be evolving.

When we make an online purchase these days, we rarely think twice about the fact that we're buying a physical product without seeing it in front of us. We throw all caution to the wind and punch in our credit card details in online forms (that is of course, if the merchant doesn't possess our credit card details already). In the pre-Internet era, such an act of disclosing one's confidential financial information to an unknown entity would be considered unthinkable, naive, and foolish. However, the millions of people today who do it every hour points to …

Published in Communication and the Public

I recently wrote an essay that was published in Communication and the Public.
In this essay I describe the recent controversy that unfolded in India following Facebook's decision to roll out "Free-basics" a zero rated internet service for low income Indians.

The article can be found online at the SAGE journals website here.

Smart contracts and dumb principles: a primer on ethereum, the DAO hack, and the hard fork

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When Satoshi Nakamoto conceptualized the blockchain in his bitcoin whitepaper back in 2008, the emphasis on its inherent immutability was patently obvious. "The network timestamps transactions", the abstract ran, "by hashing them into an ongoing chain of hash-based proof-of-work, forming a record that cannot be changed ..."

Of course, he wasn't using the term blockchain yet ... but it would pick up soon.

Eight years hence, the blockchain has become more than just a buzzword in a select set of silos around the world. Computer scientists and math nerds are excited about the technology for what it is. Finance folks are peering in its direction, their noses quivering in anticipation of what this strange entity could mean to them. Law practitioners are, unsurprisingly enough, trying very hard to make it all about them. Government officials are still (mostly) scratching their heads and trying to figure out whether they can make easy money out of it. And if not, how …

Dream Theater – The Astonishing – live in New York City, 23rd April, 2016

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This post was written for Top Five Records. You can read the original post here.

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If you follow the concert reviews that I write for this blog (for example, this, or this, or this, or well, even this), you would notice my incurable – almost clinical obsession – with a rather particular genre of rock music – viz. progressive rock.

The one band that opened the floodgates of my obsession for this genre was Dream Theater. Of course, I had been listening to Pink Floyd before, not quite knowing that A Dark Side of the Moon was “prog”. Or that the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Heart Club Band had actually laid the foundation of the concept album – which has become central to prog music today. And of course, once the floodgates had opened, the usual prog suspects followed – from the 70s British scene right up to the progressive metal of today. But Dream Theater was that one band that really introduced me to the genre, made me aware of what the genre really entailed, and taught me how to apprec…

Hello, 3D printing

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3D printing has been quite the rage in the past couple of years. And not surprisingly so.

Indeed, very few things can be cooler than feeding a 3D model into a software, interfacing that with the right hardware, and getting a real-life model of it, right there. A number of reputablesources have even claimed that it's going to change the world forever.

We shall see how it changes the world forever, if and when it ever does, but for now, I'm just here to talk about my first experience with a 3D printer. This was at our office at the Berkman Center For Internet and Society at Harvard University (where I'm interning this summer). And it's actually, really cool.


The ink, at least for this printer (and from my understanding, for most 3D printers today) was plastic. The type of plastic that you need, depends on the kind of thing that you are printing. Here's how a cartridge looks like.


The mechanics of 3D printing is extremely interesting. One might just think that you fe…

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous - a book review

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In August 2010, The Washington Post ran a news report on the website 4chan and its role in fomenting massive disruptions on the internet using collective online action. That was a time when 4chan, then a seven year old website, built by a 15 year old kid, and managed decentrally by large numbers of anonymous users, had only begun to make its presence felt to the outside world. Back then, 4chan was known only by the more erudite of the Internet denizens. It was a shady place, where not too many people ventured into, even fewer returned to. The close-knit community of nameless strangers who flocked around the website, sharing messages, images, and videos, lived their own underground life - laughing at their own jokes (which were often tasteless), poking fun at the outside world, and throwing out a prank now and then. Interestingly, and as author Gabriella Coleman (2014) describes in her book, it also proved to be the breeding ground of one of the most enigmatic activist groups of all t…

A summer in Harvard

I'm really excited to have been selected as an intern at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University this summer! I will be working with Patrick Murck, one of the co-founders of the Bitcoin Foundation on the Digital Finance project - cryptocurrencies, law, and all that jazz.

Have a feeling I'll have a lot of stuff to write about soon. Watch this space...

The Steven That Refused to Sing - Steven Wilson live in NYC - 5th March 2016

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This post was originally written for Top Five Records, You can read the original here.

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The disappointment was palpable. The thousands that had filled up Manhattan’s historic Beacon Theater on a cold March evening were probably beginning to regret their decision. A crew member had just announced that Steven Wilson, the main attraction of the night was unwell. For the first time in his 20 years of touring, Wilson had lost his voice on the night of a concert.

When he did come out on the stage however, the applause was deafening. Perched up on the first row of the balcony, I could hardly contain my excitement. Needless to say, Wilson was a person whom I practically worshipped. Being a huge lover of progressive rock music myself, I have often felt my musical taste to be somewhat of an anachronism – displaced in time by a few decades. Consequently, it is difficult to find musicians these days who create progressive rock in the manner it was meant to be created. Amongst the few who do cre…