Internet In Russia Russia has always been a country full of contradictions, as it was said once in a movie: They weep when getting married, and sing going off to war. Large cities, such as Moscow and St. Petersburg, are showing off the latest models of executive cars (always full option) and open up new boutiques of top couturiers almost daily. Nevertheless as soon as one gets outside the urban area, running water is considered a luxury. Technology as a whole was never Russias strongest asset.
This means that some technological advances considered a must-have in the west are still ignored in this country. For example, the quality of agricultural machinery is almost at the pre-historic level. While at the same time the range of household technological supplies is greater and more advanced than in most European countries. It is only what is heeded prosperous to have, that is being developed and spent money on. Computers were known as a tool for the wizard for quiet some time in Russia. University students used typewriters for their papers up to 1996 at least.
Even nowadays, lots of government organisations and some students still dont use computers for the paperwork. Internet was literally unheard of in the masses until around 1995. I find it ironic that one of the first and most scandalous hacker incidents happened in Russia. In the early nineties a young man from St. Petersburg broke into a Swiss bank computer system. The crook ended up messing with millions of dollars.
When the incident went public, the people didnt understand the concept of online communication or Internet services, the only thing that was talked about was the dollar amount that could have been stolen. The first spread of Internet use among the non-scientific population was for commercial purposes. It is when russian entrepreneurs understood the importance of communication and publicity, especially towards the west, that Internet providers found a source of income in Russia. As in most fields of technological advances, after the first push the wheel of demand instantaneously gains its speed. In the span of three years 86% of non-government organisations based in large cities had a web page. Even though the above seems to show an immense change, there is still a boundary between Russia and the rest of the world, even on the web. There is such a thing as a Russian Internet; most russian users dont go beyond that.
The most obvious reason is a language barrier, as well as the letter difference. Unfortunately these are not the only reasons for the lack of interest towards the foreign Internet; since Russia is an enormously large country, most of its inhabitants feel that it is the whole world. Most of these people will never have the chance to go anywhere outside of Russia, so they show ignorance towards the life and events outside of it. In order to be able to surf on the Russian Internet and be able to take advantage of all the information offered, one has to have a bilingual keyboard; with both Russian and Latin alphabets. The names of the sites are using Latin letters, that is the requirement to get on the World Wide Web.
The information is usually in Russian. This causes a problem, because if one doesnt have a special translating system installed, the russian letters turn into chaotic symbols and it is impossible to have access to the information on this site. Some sites are getting a double version, for both Russian and English-speaking users; they are the ones that are aimed at the west. Anyone who has ever gone on the Internet has used such browsers as Yahoo or AltaVista, they obviously help one to get around the net and find relevant information. There are Russian equivalents of these search engines, based on the same system of usage. The first Russian Web Directory was Russia On The Net, it still exists, but it is rarely used, since more advanced systems have been developed.
The most well known browser is Aport 2000. The reason for its popularity is the automatic translation of foreign sites into Russian, as well as the automatic compatibility to any computer system. Another reason is the ability for the user to type in the information in English and get the feedback in Russian. Aport 2000 is giving Russian users the ability to surf on the foreign internet and overcome the language barrier, unfortunately a user that is not familiar with the Russian language is unable to use this particular system. Other famous Russian search engines are Yandex, often used because the looked for words are highlighted in red, Rambler, AU, Deol WebGuide, City Line; and a special web directory for visitors of the country called Russia for Visitors. Internet is used not only for information retrieval, but also for leisure and communication purposes. Chatrooms are as famous among Russian users, as they are in the rest of the world.
For the same old reason, as a language barrier, Russian people prefer to go to Russian chatrooms. The most used ones are: Chatpage, Bessedki and KPOBATKA. You find people using both Russian and Latin letters to spell russian words, depending on their keyboard capacity. In the past year great advances in the Internet have happened in Russia. Today almost all of the famous bands and singers have a website, where the fans can enjoy their latest albums and singles.
The bands attach a personal note to the users, explaining that its obvious that these songs are going to be copied to the MP3s. The users are asked to make a donation of $ 0.20 per song to the band, so that it would be possible for the singers to continue making music and have new releases. The example of such a band is Mummy Troll. I know from personal experience that there are young people who make these donations, so the notes are not made for nothing. There has been a growing amount of privately owned newspapers in Russia since 1992. Most of them cant afford to put all of their articles on their WebPages.
Some of them dont even have WebPages. Nevertheless there are Internet magazines that get updated every day, that feature the most relevant articles from numerous newspapers. One example of such magazine is Meranga. It features not only newspaper articles, but also online radio shows and news, the top 20 of the Russian Pop music, etc. Newspapers owned by large companies, or the ones supporting a powerful political group have the capacity to put all of their article on their sites, such as the newspaper KOMEPCAHT.
Until approximately two years ago, television and radio shows used a pager to get feedback from their viewers and listeners. The first television show to get an Online Internet Service was MTV, in Russia it is a show, not a channel like in Europe; even though it is the same corporation. Unfortunately very few people use this service, most prefer to use the telephone and sent a message through the pager service. Another famous Internet Online service is for the channel NTV for the programme Segodniachko. It is the programme that deals with recent events on a personal level; the literate translation is Todayko, which comes from the word today, and that is the way one can find it on the web.
This particular Online Service has a great importance to the Russian people all over the world. There are only two Russian television channels that can be watched all over the world OPT and NTV. It is often the only connection for lots of Russian people who are living outside of the country with the opinions and events in Russia. For the people living in foreign countries it is easier and cheaper to use the Internet, while for the people in Russia it is easier and cheaper to use the phone. Since both services are available, people can communicate and exchange opinions across the continents.
The reason for me being so supportive of this particular service, is that I took part in the discussions when important and disturbing events happened in my country: i.e. The war in Chechnya, the president elections; and I felt closer to my country because of it. Russia is in the beginning stage of the capitalistic economy, which means that there is no monopolisation of the market. There isnt an equivalent of UUNET as in Belgium, or America On Line. When I looked up the Internet Service Providers in Russia on the web, it gave me a list of six pages long with 188 names.
The reason for so many is because Russia isnt very centralised, and people prefer to invest or pay to someone who is geographically closer. For example people in Kamchatka, which is the eastern side of Russia would feel very uncomfortable to transfer their money to someone i …