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Ben Peters – The Free Market Failure of the Soviet Internet

Thursday, February 5, 2009
12:30 pm


Sherrerd Hall, 3rd floor open space
Princeton, NJ 08544 United States + Google Map

Food and discussion begins at 12:30 pm. Everyone invited.

Why wasn’t there a Soviet ARPANET equivalent? This working paper develops several leads with fresh archival evidence: one, that the first person to design a national computer network for civilian use was a Soviet Colonel; two, that the decentralized design of both Soviet institutions and networks contributed to that network’s failure; three, that while the ARPANET initially succeeded thanks to US state subsidies, the Soviet networks failed to develop due to unregulated competition between ministries. Combining these and other counter-intuitive thoughts, the story of what Slava Gerovitch calls “the Soviet InterNyet” offers a cautionary tale about residual cold war market logics in the contemporary design of policy and technology.