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

(Ben Green) #1

112 Chapter 4

As communication scholar Vincent Mosco has recently noted, the Sovi-
ets offer perhaps the first glimpse of the modern imagining of decentralized
remote computing (what recently has been called cloud computing) on a
massive scale.^5 In Glushkov’s design, the network would afford interactive
and collective remote access and communication vertically up and down
the planning pyramid and horizontally among peer and associated com-
puting centers. Glushkov writes: “the characteristic quality of the network
was a distributed database with zero-address access from any point of the
system to all the information after automatic verification of the qualified
user.” In other words, any user with proper permission could access all
the content of the network at any point on the network. At local levels,
factory workers would be able to input their own information, reports,
and recommendations about improving factory workflow, which would
automatically be stored in a national unified database for local, regional,
and national review. The content format was not to be prespecified. For
example, the network visionaries planned to include over 500,000 project

Figure 4.2
Map of the EGSVTs (Unified State Network of Computing Centers) that were pro-
jected to be operational in 1990, possibly from 1964.^4

Free download pdf