No Country for IT-Men: Post-Soviet Internet Metaphors of Who and How Interacts with the Internet
The internet is not understood in the same way by all people, everywhere. This statement seems to be common sense, and frankly speaking, it does not actually challenge the basic understanding of what the internet is in a universal sense.
We attempt to challenge it, introducing the alternative understanding of what the internet might mean if we take into account its world-wide history. In our fieldwork we have interviewed a group of early internet pioneers. These people (men) were the first to encounter and use the internet in Russian cities. And their description of the relationships with the internet don’t match what Markham (1998, 2003) describes as ‘tool, place, or way of being’.
In this piece we, firstly, turn to a historical and cultural context to describe some of the fundamental principles of ‘human+technology’ relationships in USSR (Soviet Union) and post-Soviet culture. Secondly, we identify three features of the narratives about the internet used by internet pioneers in Russia. Focusing on what they say (metaphorical expressions), how they say it (linguistic constructions), and in what situation they say it (local Russian contexts), we propose that despite similarities between Western and Russian metaphors (ie. Markham’s conceptual framework of tool, place, and way of being), different histories and cultures of technologies create marked distinctions in what meaning is conveyed (Markham, 1998, 2003).