The Internet in Russia
Russia has always been a country full of contradictions, as it was said once in a movie: “They weep when getting married, and sing going off to war.” Large cities, such as Moscow and St. Petersburg, are showing off the latest models of executive cars (always full option) and open up new boutiques of top couturiers almost daily. Nevertheless as soon as one gets outside the urban area, running water is considered a luxury.
Technology as a whole was never Russia’s strongest asset. This means that some technological advances considered a “must-have” in the west are still ignored in this country. For example, the quality of agricultural machinery is almost at the pre-historic level. While at the same time the range of household technological supplies is greater and more advanced than in most European countries. It is only what is heeded prosperous to have, that is being developed and spent money on.
Computers were known as “a tool for the wizard” for quiet some time in Russia. University students used typewriters for their papers up to 1996 at least. Even nowadays, lots of government organisations and some students still don’t use computers for the paperwork. Internet was literally unheard of in the masses until around 1995. I find it ironic that one of the first and most scandalous hacker incidents happened in Russia. In the early nineties a young man from St. Petersburg broke into a Swiss bank computer system. The crook ended up messing with millions of dollars. When the incident went public, the people didn’t understand the concept of online communication or Internet services, the only thing that was talked about was the dollar amount that could have been stolen.
The first spread of Internet use among the non-scientific population was for commercial purposes. It is when russian entrepreneurs understood the importance of communication and publicity, especially towards the west, that Internet providers found a source of income in Russia. As in most fields of technological advances, after the first push the wheel of demand instantaneously gains its speed. In the span of three years 86% of non-government organisations based in large cities had a web page.
Even though the above seems to show an immense change, there is still a boundary between Russia and the rest of the world, even on the web. There is such a thing as a “Russian Internet”; most russian users don’t go beyond that. The most obvious reason is a language barrier, as well as the letter difference. Unfortunately these are not the only reasons for the lack of interest towards the “foreign Internet”; since Russia is an enormously large country, most of its inhabitants feel that it is the whole world. Most of these people will never have the chance to go anywhere outside of Russia, so they show ignorance towards the life and events outside of it.
In order to be able to surf on the Russian Internet and be able to take advantage of all the information...