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

(Ben Green) #1

Staging the OGAS, 1962 to 1969 135

title “Executives Incognito: On Wanting to Remain Unknown, at Least to
the Authorities.”^45 Puns punctuated the technocratic discourse while qui-
etly resisting power. These scientists sought in Cybertonia their own Cybe-
ria away from Siberia, an escape from the great error of Khrushchev’s age if
not the great terror of Stalin’s. Alas, Cybertonia never did grow to become,
as the editors of its 1968 symposium had gleefully enthused, an “interplan-
etary congress.” At some point between 1969 and 1970, as the Brezhnev
doctrine compelled the Warsaw Pact to invade Czechoslovakia, “the entire
idea of Cybertonia,” as a participant recalled, “was buried by the pressure of
the Party and government.”^46
The purpose of this snapshot into the informal lives of Soviet cyberneti-
cists should be clear. In the forests of Feofania and in the virtual playground
of Cybertonia, network entrepreneurs sought intellectual, political, and
social autonomy, revelry, and even subtle informal protest from the oppres-
sive regime that they served. Just as other cultures have demonstrated the
rich connections between informal countercultures and cybercultures,

Figure 4.13
Parody newsletter: Vechernii Kiber (Evening Cyber), 1966.

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