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

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136 Chapter 4

lively network forums reproduced the cultural, institutional, and gendered
mores of the Soviet 1960s, conceiving of a kind of privileged cybercom-
mune of their own making.^47
In the early 1960s—when Glushkov’s ambitious plan to network, account
for, and automate the nationwide command economy faced both partial
formal approval and informal resistance from the top state authorities—his
own local institution was undergoing significant institutional growth even
as it was being told it must develop the EGSVTs before the OGAS network.
In this fleeting period of optimism, the establishment and growth of the
Institute of Cybernetics led to a form of institutional adolescence in which
it exercised institutional ambitions on the national stage while informally
and internally venting a kind of countercultural defiance against the state
regime that governed it.
In fact, at the same time, 1962 to 1968, that Cybertonia was being cel-
ebrated during after-work hours, the Institute of Cybernetics was transi-
tioning from a relatively small set of buildings near Theofania to a spacious
campus a few kilometers to the southwest. It had enough modern buildings
to house each major field of cybernetics with its own research department
(except for Glushkov’s “theoretical and economic cybernetics,” which
remained a department that preserves to this day the particular universal of
Glushkov’s merger of mathematics and economics).

CEMI and the OGAS Institutional Landscape in the 1960s

Glushkov’s research institute was not alone in experiencing institutional
growth in the early 1960s. Many prominent research institutes were estab-
lished across the Soviet Union in the 1960s (Ukraine today has roughly
130 research institutes, and Russia has many more). Under the leadership
of Aksel’ Berg and the new president of the Soviet Academy of Sciences,
Mstislav Keldysh, most of these pertained to cybernetic research. Those
focusing on economic cybernetics included Viktor Glushkov’s Institute of
Cybernetics in Kiev and Nikolai Fedorenko’s Central Economic-Mathemat-
ical Institute in Moscow.
These academic institutes were located in the capitals of the Soviet empire
and under the umbrella of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. They functioned
not as “islands of autonomy” (as may have been the case in the secret Sibe-
rian science city of Akademgorodok) but initially as contingent trading
zones and eventually holding stations for enthusiastic young researchers
who powered much of the early wave of Soviet cybernetic research growth
throughout the 1960s. Prominent research institutes of all kinds sought to

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