How Not to Network a Nation. The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet

(Ben Green) #1

134 Chapter 4

culture (figure 4.12),^44 and it published at least one issue of a newspaper
and made a comedic short film titled “Feofan Stepanovich serditsya” (fig-
ure 4.13). By 1966, its motto had evolved to “energy, laughter, dreams,
and fantasy.” Stamped on the headline of the single issue of the group’s
newspaper the Evening Cyber stood the greetings “s novyim kodom” (or
“happy new code,” a near homophone with “happy new year” in Russian).
In 1968, a season ripe with revolt, a symposium of cybertonians published
an irreverent report on the “complex cybernetic aspects of humor” that was
issued from “Cyber City” in April 1969. The report contains nothing explic-
itly subversive but overflows with technocratic wit and sarcasm directed
against Soviet authority figures. These merry pranksters compared the task
of securing living quarters (a notorious challenge of everyday Soviet life) to
hyperdimensional geometry and published “formal” reports on “theory of
Graphs/Counts” (teoriya grafov, the royal title of count is a homophone with
the word graph in Russian), a Jonathan Swift–like account of laughter at
work as an underutilized national economic resource, odes to the virtues of
Georgian soccer, cheese, beer, and a few chauvinistic laughs about the pros-
pects of the feminization of science. Another report in 1965 bore the bold

Figure 4.12
Cybertonia logo: a robot playing jazz on a saxophone, about 1966.

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