Where the knowledge is

There's a lot of knowledge and content everywhere, but it's really hard to find quality stuff that interests you. I thought I'd maintain an eclectic set of content that I read and watch regularly or have been immensely moved or educated by. The list is a constant work in progress.

Stimulating Reads

Aggregations of interesting and informative pieces of writing.

Hacker News
The one stop source for all the latest news and information in technology. Far eclipses competitors like TechCrunch in quality density and speed.

Noam Chomsky's Articles
Words from possibly the world's leading intellectual. His thoughts on media, government, policy, economy, and linguistics are a formative influence.

Philip Guo's Blog
Philip Guo, most famous for The PhD Grind, his 122-page e-book about his PhD experience, gives great advice for high school, college and graduate students, programmers, immigrant parents and more.

Five Thirty Eight
Nate Silver's data-centric blog, 538, gained popularity after predicting the 2008 US Elections, and continues to publish some of the most interesting reads and inferences from data.

Essays and Speeches by Charlie Munger
The long time friend and advisor to Warren Buffet speaks and writes of economics, finance, psychology, and overall worldly wisdom.

Alan Dershowitz' Articles
Possibly the world leader in law writes political commentary particularly about Israel-Palestine and foreign policy.

Paul Graham's Essays
Venture capitalist and founder of Y Combinator writes the simplest yet most captivating essays about how to live life, startups, knowledge, and technology.

Farnam Street
A blog that helps you go to bed smarter than you woke up. It speaks of philosophy, wisdom, happiness, knowledge and meaning.

Moxie Marlinspike's Hacks
A collection of software written by the pretty legendary hacker, Moxie, particularly network security hacks.

Repugnant Conclusions
A blog by a Harvard Divinity School students on reasoning about the ethics and morality of things, instead or arbitrarily accepting and rejecting them based on social norms. He deals with issues like bestiality, abortion, necrophilia, pedophilia, and more.

Andrej Karpathy's Blog
Andrej Karpathy is a really smart hacker PhD student at Stanford, previously under Andrew Ng, and now Fei Fei Li, who does amazing things with convolutional neural nets and gives some great concrete advice which I wish I'd followed more and the best intuitive guide to neural nets I've ever seen.

Schneier on Security
Bruce Schneier is the Chuck Norris of the computer security world, and his blog is read by a quarter of a million people. He's a former NSA official and long time code breaker who's widely regarded at the leader in his field. Don't forget to catch his beautiful TED talk as well.

Krebs on Security
Brian Krebs is a former Washington Post reporter and a long term veteran reporting on computer security who writes non-technically about current major security issues, exploits and hacks.

Sam Altman's Blog
Venture capitalist and lecturer of the Stanford course on "How To Start a Startup" speaks about startups, technology and entrepreneurship.

Comics and Humour

One stop source for humor when you can't watch a video.

Randall Munroe's comic strip about technology, science, mathematics and relationships. Possibly read by every technologist, scientist, mathematician, and more.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (SMBC) is a comic strip that features atheism, romance, science, research and the meaning of life.

PhD Comics
PhD, or Piled Higher and Deeper, is a comic strip written by Caltech instructor Jorge Cham that follows graduate students' lives and stories.

From memes to stories, funny pictures to cute things, GIFs to NSFW stuff, and even videos, 9gag has all sorts of miscellaneous humour.

The Oatmeal
Home to famous Nikola Tesla and Mantis Shrimp comics, The Oatmeal, created in 2009 by Matthew Inman, covers an eclectic range of topics. Inman says it typically takes 7-8 hours of research to produce one comic.

Recent Trends and Cool Things

Every now and then you'll hear of a interesting idea, or a cool invention that gets lost amongst other news. I wanted to keep a list so I could follow up.

Magic Leap
Completely unrelated to Leap Motion, the Magic Leap came into the limelight when Google funded it $500 million in Series B. This is an unprecedented amount of funding for a company with no product. Founded by Rory Abovitz, who previously sold a medical company for $1.65b, and based in Florida, Magic Leap has invented what they're calling a "Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal" that seems to be a headset-less virtual reality that your brain processes as part of the real world.

At $99, 23andMe tests your DNA and reports interesting things about your health such as the likelihood you'll acquire a bunch of diseases, your racial break down, and your ancestry. Interestingly, one of the founders, Anne Wojcicki, was married to Sergey Brin, of Google.

Oculus Rift
The biggest thing in virtual reality, in 2013-14 (at the time of writing this), Oculus provides a headset that seamlessly provides a sci-fi like virtual reality experience. It has since been acquired by Facebook.

Leap Motion
The Leap Motion is a sensor that rests on your desk above which you can use your hand to interact with different devices. It uses some crazy math to be able to, from unassumingly resting on your desk, quite accurately detect the positions of all of your fingers above it with low latency. Many claim it is not as accurate as advertised.

News and Magazines

There's too much bad media everywhere, and it's hard to get the "real story" in well-phrased readable form. These guys do a good job. I personally use Longform to consume news from multiple sources, and highly recommend it.

The New York Times
Largely regarded as the world's leading newspaper shows news from the US and all over the world, and has one of the best Opinion pages out there.

The New Yorker
An American magazine which not only deals with the cultural life of New York City, but also covers politics, pop culture and more.

Quartz is a web-native news publication that is the first infinite-scroll news provider. The quality density is high, and the scroll format keeps you hooked.

The Atlantic
An American magazine that contains particularly good reads in Education and other things.

The Wall Street Journal
The top of the line source for business and economic news.



Manufacturing Consent
Noam Chomsky analyzes the market forces surrounding the media, government, and bodies of influence and how it results in the media being subject to self-censorship and serving as a mouthpiece for the government.

An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions
Amartya Sen and Jean Dr├Ęze explore the post-independence growth of India in an economic, social and political. They draw attention to some stark, widely ignored faults in how we look at India's growth since 1947.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century
French economist Thomas Piketty's groundbreaking novel that shows how a successful capitalism inevitably increases economic inequality, and investigates several solutions.

Stirring Videos

A list of stuff that's inspiring, informative, and exceptionally helpful in moulding your worldview.

John Oliver's Last Week Tonight
The very best of video entertainment ever. John Oliver is my favorite source of news and political satire. He raises and crushes controversial issues.

The hackers' conference is the elite source for all things computer security.

Noam Chomsky's Speeches
While Chomsky may be slightly monotonous, he is almost indomitable in debate on account of the depth of his knowledge and breath of his acumen.

Satyamev Jayate
Popular Bollywood actor Aamir Khan takes on the biggest issues plaguing India in this emotion fueled TV show.

INK Talks
An India-focused extension of TED that brings together from very inspirational talks from the likes of Varun Agarwal, Nikesh Arora, Sheena Iyengar and more.

TED Talks
Under twenty minute talks about 'Ideas worth Spreading' ranging in dozens of topics. Features innovation and inspiration.

The Outsider Debates
A series of debates moderated by prominent journalist Tim Sebastian featuring influential personalities about major issues plaguing India.

Entertaining Video Series

Also known as: how to kill time on Youtube.

Epic Fails
A bunch of random videos of people falling, running into walls, trying to do stunts, and any other physically painful mishap you can imagine that provides an unprecedented amount of sadistic pleasure.

Epic Rap Battles of History
This comedy series pits popular historical and pop culture figures against each other in 3-4 minute rap battles, or verbal jousts if you prefer, and spans 4 seasons. My favorites include Einstein vs Hawking and Hitler vs Darth Vader.

The Viral Fever
TVF is one of the new age comedy acts that do short skits, videos, and satirical takes on various aspects of Indian pop culture.

All India Bakchod
AIB is TVF's counterpart. They also do humourous skits and satire on the overarching theme of India.

Pretentious Movie Reviews
Hosted by new-age Indians Kanan Gill and Biswa Kalyan Rath, Pretentious Movie Reviews reviews extremely funny old Bollywood movies.

Being Indian
Being Indian is an act that does street interviews and social experiments as well as enactments of popular stereotypes in India.

Honest Trailers
ScreenJunkies' Honest Trailers do comedic trailers for popular movies and TV shows revealing what they are 'honestly' about.

Roman Atwood
Roman Atwood is part of the new age league of pranksters that do a variety of entertaining pranks in public.

Vitaly also does pranks and social experiments in public.

Ownage Pranks
OwnagePranks features a voice actor that enacts different races from African-American to Asian to Indian and more while prank calling people.

Jimmy Kimmel
Jimmy Kimmel is a talk show host. His funniest shows involve asking strange questions to the public or asking the audience to record videos of themselves doing his open challenges.

Arnab Goswami's Newshour Debate
Arnab Goswami is the Indian journalist notorious for being boisterous, unreasonable, repetitive, loud and arrogant. His show is an unintentional satire on Indian journalism.

Louis C.K.
Harsh, un-censored, and to the point about his cynicism for life, age and being fat, Louis CK is one of my favorite comedians.

Russell Peters
The popular king of Indian comedy, Russell Peters is Canadian with roots in India (in my city, Calcutta). He talks about stereotypes all over the world, accents, and immigrant life.

Non-fictional and Semi-fictional Movies

It wouldn't be feasible to list all movies I've watched and enjoyed. I'm particularly fond of semi-fictional/non-fictional movies and I watch a ton of documentaries, so here are some that I found particularly moving.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Based on the book by the very inspirational Mohsin Hamid and loosely based on his life. Although the movie doesn't do justice to the book, it's still a powerful movie with a strong message.

Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times
A series of clips from Noam Chomsky's talks that counter the populist opinion on 9/11 and expose the propaganda model of the US media.

Not a movie. Gumrah is an Indian crime TV series, which is available online. It recreates supposedly non-fictional crime stories committed by the Indian youth. It can get very cheesy and I'm almost certan the stories aren't based on true events, but they can still be shocking.

Bhutto is a documentary that follows the lineage of the most powerful lineage of leaders in Pakistan - the Bhutto family in context of the political history of Pakistan.

Dirty Wars
Follows the US journalist Jeremy Scahill, and the story of how he discovers the inhumane acts of terror that the US military carries out in the Middle East.

Ip Man
A semi-fictional Cantonese movie based on the legendary martial artist Ip Man, who trained Bruce Lee.

City of God
This semi-fictional Portugese movie follows the crime scene in Brazil and features 2nd on Roger Ebert's list of best movies of 2003.

Rush is a movie about racing, rivalry and friendship with no clear antagonist and protagonist that follows the epic competition between F1 racers Niki Lauda and James Hunt.

Inside Job
Inside Job is a documentary and series of interviews that seeks to explain the corruption that caused the 2008 economic recession.

Follows the inspiration struggle of Jeremy Lin, the smart Asian kid, who fought stereotypes to become one of the best players in basketball.

The Square
The Square depicts the tale of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Fire in Babylon
Possibly the best cricket documentary I've ever seen, Fire in Babylon follows the journey of West Indies cricket in the 70s and 80s as the small country fought apartheid for freedom, and went undefeated for 15 years.

The World Before Her
This documentary follows the lives of two Indian women - one an aspiring model, and the other a Hindu nationalist member of the RSS - and shows us the cultural dichotomy India finds itself in.

Food Inc
This documentary exposes the corruption and monopoly of the food industry in the US that optimizes profits by forgoing the need to produce healthy food.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
The Enron Scandal was one of the biggest business scandals in history. This documentary shows how it all happened.

Midas Formula: The Trillion Dollar Bet
Follows the story of the small trillion dollar hedge fund of Nobel Laureates and financially elite of the 90s, Long Term Capital Management, that made an immense amount of money, but eventually collapsed.

The story about Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in his journey and struggle to Indian freedom.

An Inconvenient Truth
A documentary meant to educate the world about the very real reality of climate change and global warming.

Michael Jackson's This Is It
A story about one of the greatest performers and music artists the world has ever seen and one of my personal favourite entertainers, Michael Jackson.

Pirates of the Silicon Valley
The original father of all Silicon Valley movies, Pirates was released in 1999 and features Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Paul Allen, and even Mike Markkula.

Randy Pausch: The Last Lecture
One of the most inspirational videos I've ever seen, cancer-diagnosed Computer Science professor at Carnegie-Mellon Randy Pausch gives his ultimate lecture about the lessons life taught him and how they can help you.

Inside the Dark Web
A documentary about the internet, surveillance, privacy, anonymity, Tor, Silk Road, bitcoin, and the deep web.

How Anonymous Hackers Changed the World
How trolls on internet's 4chan assembled a large group of internet hackers clad in Guy Fawkes' masks to use collaboration amongst citizens to protest against the government.

The Social Network
The story of how Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook.

The Pirate Bay: Away From Keyboard
The story of yet another very real effort to promote democracy that meets at odds with pre-existing law. We see the details of a battle between big film and music corporates and 3 computer guys who run a torrent website, each bringing their arsenal of legal and political vs technological weapons.

Don't Talk to Police
This is a lecture in Law more than a documentary where a formal criminal defence attorney describes in tremendous detail that given the current US legal system, you cannot do any positive good by speaking to the police.

How the Economic Machine Works - Ray Dalio
Ray Dalio, the founder of the world's largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, created this animated 30 minute video explaining how the economy functions in a very simply way. A must watch for everybody who uses money.

The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz
A riveting story of injustice served upon a brave-heart trying to use Computer Science as a means to make political change, Aaron Swartz.

Interesting Academic Papers

There's obviously way too vast an expanse of academic papers that are impactful in many ways most of us do not recognize. This collection merely represents some papers that I found "really cool".

Deep Visual-Semantic Alignments for Generating Image Descriptions
Andrej Karpathy and Fei Fei Li [2014]

The machine learning group at Stanford generates natural language English sentences that describe images, using convolutional neural nets on the images and recurrent neural nets over sentences in this amazing work.

Spying the World from your Laptop
Le Blond et al [2010]

Exposes the privacy concerns in BitTorrent, and how from a single machine, they managed to collect 148 million IPs downloading 2 billion copies over 103 days.

Internet Censorship in Iran
Aryan and Halderman [2013]

This paper examines the status of Internet censorship in Iran based on network measurements conducted from a major Iranian ISP during the lead up to the June 2013 presidential election.

Outsmarting Proctors with Smartwatches
Migicovsky, Halderman et al [2014]

This paper shows how students can cheat on examinations with smartwatches.

Internet Censorship in China
Xu, Mao, Halderman et al [2011]

"In this work, we explore where Intrusion Detection System (IDS) devices of the Great Firewall of China (GFC) are placed for keyword filtering at AS and router level. Knowing where IDSes are attached helps us better understand the infrastructure of the firewall, gain more knowledge about its behavior and find vantage point for future circumvention techniques."

Crawling BitTorrent DHTs for Fun and Profit
Wolchok and Halderman [2010]

They track 7.9 million IPs downloading 1.5 million torrents over 16 days and present a way to monitor pirates' behavior and "negate any perceived anonymity of the decentralized BitTorrent architecture".

Security Analysis of India's Electronic Voting Machines
Wolchok et al [2010]

They "demonstrate two attacks, implemented using custom hardware, which could be carried out by dishonest election insiders or other criminals with only brief physical access to the machines". A diplomatic way of saying they undermined the world's largest democracy.

Women in Academic Science: A Changing Landscape
Ceci, Ginther et al [2014]

Contradicts previous assumptions of gender bias and says that gender differences in spatial and mathematical reasoning do not stem from a biological basis, but rather suggests women have "difference in attitudes toward and expectations about math careers and ability". Was published in the New York Times.

DeepFace: Closing the Gap to Human-Level Performance in Face Verification
Taigman, Yang et al [2014]

The guys at Facebook AI use a preprocessing 3D affine transform before running a 120 million parameter, 9 layer deep neural net on the largest dataset at the time - 4 million images, with an accuracy of 97.35%, 27% higher than its predecessor and probably greater than human-level performance.

ImageNet Classification with Deep Convolutional Neural Networks
Krizhevsky, Sutskever, Hinton [2012]

They trained a 60 million parameter large convolutional deep neural net on the classical ImageNet dataset to obtain an error rate of 15.3% compared to the previous record of 26.2%.

Deep Neural Networks for Acoustic Modeling in Speech Recognition
Hinton et al [2012]

Shows that deep neural networks can outperform traditional Hidden Markov Models and Gaussian Mixture Model (HMM-GMM) approaches to speech recognition.

Large Scale Distributed Deep Networks
Dean, Corrado, et al [2012]

Uses an asynchronous stochastic gradient descent (SGD) procedure and a framework for distributed batch optimization to train a network 30x larger than in previous literature - with 1.7 billion parameters and tens of thousands of CPU cores. Achieves 15% on ImageNet.

Intriguing Properties of Neural Networks
Szegedy, Zaremba et al [2014]

Particularly interestingly, this paper shows the instability of deep neural networks in high dimensional space by making random perturbations in correctly classified images until the net misclassifies it. It turns out that the second image is visually indistinguishable from the first, and the neural net produces strange results.

W32.Stuxnet Dossier
Falliere et al [2011]

A detailed dossier on the infamous Stuxnet worm - a worm that used zero-day exploits on Windows machines propagated via USB to penetrate air-gapped machines in Iran and purportedly wipe out of 1/5th of their nuclear centrifuges.

The Hangover Report - Unveiling an Indian Cyberattack Infrastructure
Norman Shark [2013]

A detailed, frankly LOL, report, of how a Norwegian telecom company, Telenor, reported a case of "spear phishing" emails to the upper management. Further investigation revealed that the attack came from India, which unsurprisingly failed to cover its tracks.

The Visual Microphone: Passive Recovery of Sound from Video
David, Rubenstein et al [2014]

Seemingly straight out of a sci-fi movie, the guys at MIT CSAIL use high speed (audio-less) video footage to recover sound from minute vibrations (in things like packets of chips).

First Person Hyperlapse Videos
Kopf, Cohen et al [2014]

First person videos are choppy, boring and slow. This research converts these first person videos from Go-Pro cameras to hyperlapse videos - time lapse videos with a smoothly moving camera - seamlessly.

MOOCs and Open Education
Yuan, Powell [2013]

A detailed review of the phenomena of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), openness of higher education, and its implications.

What's the Big Idea? Towards a pedagogy of idea power
Papert [2000]

An essay about how schools deform ideas to fit the pedagogical framework. The legendary Papert ponders on the use of Computer Science as a tool to re-empower ideas that lose their glory when fitted into the school framework.

Romantic Partnerships and the Dispersion of Social Ties: A Network Analysis of Relationship Status on Facebook
Backstrom and Kleinberg [2013]

Given a set of Facebook users, Backstrom and Kleinberg use Machine Learning and other methods to predict your romantic interest accurately up to 79% of the time for a dataset of 73,000 "neighborhoods" on Facebook.

Kademlia - A p2p Distributed Hash Table
Maymounkov and Mazieres [2002]

The introduction to the Kademlia protocol for Distributed Hash Tables, notably used by BitTorrent for trackerless torrents.

Television Serials

My favourite TV serials. Would definitely recommend.

Black Mirror
A dystopian science fiction British TV series akin to The Twilight Zone (1959) and Orwell's novel 1984. None of the episodes share a plot or cast. It dwells largely on the implications of very possible consequences of technology in the near future. Stephen King likes it.

Mr. Robot
When looking for a Game of Thrones rebound, Mr. Robot was the perfect new show. Rated 98% on RottenTomatoes and featuring hackers, hacktivism and New York City, this show is about everything I like.

Game of Thrones
Based on the book by George RR Martin, Game of Thrones tells a medieval tale of dragons, empires, war, love and death. A lot of death.

Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad is about a high school Chemistry teacher that starts making meth to support his family and his cancer treatment. The character development is heart wrenching.

Entourage, based on Mark Wahlberg's life, follows an actor and his crew and celebrates the highs and lows of male friendship.

This classic is a ten season journey about friendship, love, hate and comedy.

House of Cards
House of Cards is a political drama that follows Kevin Spacey as the protagonist and shows just how dirty politics can get.

This modern take of the classical detective story features Benedict Cumberbatch. The three-long-episodes-a-season format makes for a quick awesome watch.

Think I'm missing something? Do you have something you think I should know about? Shoot me an email at
dd367 [at] cornell [dot] edu
or get in touch with me on any other form of social media.
I'd love to see it!