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

(Ben Green) #1

Introduction 13

Chapter 5 chronicles the slow undoing of the OGAS between 1970 and

  1. Neither formally approved nor fully rejected, the OGAS Project found
    itself (and proposals to use computer-programmed networks to plan social
    and economic resources, including those by the chess grandmaster Mikhail
    Botvinnik) stalemated in a morass of bureaucratic barriers, mutinous min-
    istries, and institutional infighting among a state that imagined itself as
    centralized but under civilian administration proved to be anything but. By
    the time that Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, Glushkov had died, and
    the political feasibility of technocratic economic reform had passed. This
    chapter frames how hidden social networks unraveled computer networks.
    The conclusion reflects on and complicates the plain statement that is
    the conceit of this book—that the first global computer networks began
    among cooperative capitalists, not competing socialists. Borrowing from
    the language of Hannah Arendt, it recasts the Soviet network experience in
    light of other national network projects in the latter half of the twentieth
    century, suggesting the ways that the Soviet experience may appear uncom-
    fortably close to our modern network situation. A few other summary
    observations for scholar and general-interest reader are offered in close.

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