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Title: Internet Research in Russia Alexander VOISKOUNSKY

Internet Research in RussiaAlexander
  • December 21st, 2005
  • Haifa University, Israel

Alexander Voiskounskys Regular Address
  • Dept. of Psychology,
  • Moscow State University
  • after M.V. Lomonosov
  • 8/5 Mokhovaya st.,
  • Moscow 103009 Russia
  • Tel.
  • 7 095 203 3409 (dept.)
  • E-mail
  • For long files

Personal Experience in CMC studies
  • Study, patterns in LAN communication (1980-1983)
  • F2F interviews with Soviet participants (N11) of
    the UN teleconference in biochemistry (December
  • Content analysis of listings of several
    international newsgroups with one Soviet
    participant (1983-1985)
  • Use of computer networks for bibliographic search
    in PsycInfo other databases (since mid-1980s)
  • Listening to a lecture course, S.R.Hiltz
    M.Turoff (authors of The Network Nation, 1978)
    early 1980s
  • Personal e-mail account, end of 1991, access to
  • e-mail news-conferences.

Internet development in Russia
  • 1980s National Center of Automatic Exchange of
    Information (Acad. of Sciences) limited access
    of selected representatives of several
    organizations (including the MSU), assisting
  • Late 1980 enthusiastic Unix programmers worked
    on computer telecommunications.
  • August 1990 connection to (Helsinki).
  • 19 Sept. 1990 registration of the domain .su
  • 7 April 1994 registration of the domain .ru

the 1980s, years before the regular access to the
global telecommunications became available, two
research projects had been advanced in Russia
(then the USSR) the first started shortly before
1985, i.e. before the Soviet perestroika, and the
2nd in 19851.   Speech Patterns Analysis in
Computer-Mediated Communication (1984-1990)2.
VELHAM (Velikhov-Hamburg) joint Soviet/Russian
Prehistory (continued)
  • 1. Speech Patterns Analysis
  •   Research was based on the analysis of LAN
    users behavior patterns and on the analysis done
    while episodic access to listings of newsgroups
    communication patterns.
  • The main results are the description of the
    peculiarity of awareness and orientation
    practices while computer mediated communication
    (direct and indirect ways of orientation in the
    variety of communicative partners), and the
    specifics of speech patterns, with features
    common for written and spoken speech, for
    dialogues, monologues, and polilogues.

Prehistory (continued) REFERENCES
  • - Voiskounsky A. (1995). The development of
    external means of communicative orientation.
    Journal of Russian and East European Psychology,
    33 (5), 74-81.
  • - Voiskounsky A. (1998). Telelogue Speech.
    F.Sudweeks et al. (Eds.). Network and Netplay
    Virtual Groups on the Internet. AAAI Press/The
    MIT Press, pp. 27-40.
  • - Voiskounsky A. (1992). Speech in computer
    mediated communication. Human-Computer
    Interaction, Proc., East-West Internat. Conf. -
    St. Petersburg, pp. 240-243.
  • - Voiskounsky A. Internet Communication Social
  • Proc., Fourth International Conference on
    Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and
    Communication (CATaC'04), Karlstad, Sweden, 27
    June-1 July 2004. Ed. by F.Sudweeks Ch. Ess.
    Murdoch University, Australia, Publ., 2004, pp.

Prehistory (continued)2. The Velham Project
  The research was based on the cooperation
between the Californian and the Moscow research
groups the former provided the hardware and the
telecommunication facilities, the latter
introduced the new way of communication into the
Soviet/Russian academic institutions, libraries,
and high schools. The main research results are
based on the observation of schoolchildren and
adults working and entertaining in the
computer-rich environment (the so-called 5th
Dimension).   References   1.Cole, M. (1996).
Cultural Psychology Once and Future Discipline.
Cambridge, MA, and London The Belknap Press of
Harvard U Press. 2. Papers in the Journal of
Russian and East European Psychology.
IN RUSSIA Both prehistoric teams included
psychologists. The theoretical background of the
both projects was the cultural-historical theory
of psychic development introduced by Lev
Vygotsky (1896-1934). Vygotskys main
publications in English Vygotsky, L.S. (1962).
Thought and language, Cambridge Harvard U
Press. Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in Society
The Development of Higher Psychological
Processes, Cambridge Harvard U Press. Many
other books/papers, and chapters in textbooks are
available, too  
Theoretical background (continued)
  • Vygotsky emphasized that the higher mental
    processes (including cognition) are of social
    origin, their development is based on joint
    actions (especially within the zone of proximal
    development, in the child-adult dyad), on
    interpersonal communication, and presumably on
    mediated forms of behavior.

Theoretical background (continued)   Investigation
of mediated forms of behavior is traditional for
the Vygotskian approach in (Russian) psychology.
The main mediating sources are, according to
Vygotsky, physical objects, signs and semiotic
systems. Having been internalized (the term
common both for J.Piaget and L.Vygotsky), the
signs and the methods of handling the material
objects form the higher psychological processes.
Thus, the individual psychic activity is
actually a transformed joint (usually
child-adult) activity. As a result, external and
internal (mental) activities have the same origin
and the same structure, as it is stressed by
A.N.Leontiev (in a book Problems of the
Development of Mind, Moscow Progress Publ.,
1981) and by many other Vygotskys followers.
Theoretical background (continued)
Information and Communication Technologies
(ICT) originate from highly developed semiotic
(sign) systems that mediate and remediate1
almost every human practical or theoretical
activity. Thus research in the field is apt to
the paradigm of Vygotskian approach in
psychology.   The Internet and the WWW are
probably the leading social technologies within
the ICT field. Research of the Internet/WWW usage
patterns is traditional within the Vygotskian
approach in the Russian psychology.   1 For
remediation, see Cole, M. (1996). Cultural
Psychology Once and Future Discipline.
Cambridge, MA and London the Belknap Press of
Harvard U Press.

Theoretical background (continued)
Computers and the ICT, being primarily semiotic
instruments, are externalized tools, mediating
and remediating human psychic activity. Unlike
the developmental psychology approach,
externalization and not internalization is of
primary interest for anyone doing research of the
Internet-mediated forms of cognitive,
communicative, or entertaining activities.
Progress in technologies means that psychologists
should pay much more interest in externalization
than they traditionally used to. Thus,
psychologists seemed to be the most prepared in
Russia team of specialists to initiate any
Internet-related research projects.
The Russian segment of the Internet audience
includes residents of diverse countries
(including Israelis) post-Soviets born
abroad. In the 20th century there were at least
four periods of massive migration from
Russia. SpyLog ( tracker
approximately 45-50 of navigations are made from
outside Russia. For example, Global Internet
Statistics (by Language) estimates the number of
Americans who regularly access the Russian
segment of the Internet is over 100,000. The
Russian segment includes Little Russia in San
Antonio, Texas (http//,
Israeli sites, e.a.
Global Internet Statistics (by Language)
  • The latest (refer to Fall, 2004) estimated
    figures of the number of people online in each
    language zone (native speakers), classified by
    languages instead of by countries, since people
    speaking the same language form their own online
    community no matter what country they happen to
    live in.
  • Source Global Reach (

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Reasons for Joining the Russian Internet
  • Several ethnic_language_segments, presented on
    the Internet, may be called points of
    attraction. These are languages other than
  • The Russian segment of the Internet is a PoA.
  • Method discussions (F2F or mediated, but not
    formal interviews) with non-Russian residents
    (N67), held since 1994.

Reasons for Joining the Russian Internet
community contd
  • Lack/shortage of attractive web content in ethnic
  • Poor command of official languages of post-Soviet
    states by ethnic Russians, residing outside
  • Poor literacy skills in their mother-tongues of
    non-Russians in the post-Soviet states they got
    formal education in Russian.
  • Use of Arabic or Latin alphabets in some
    post-Soviet states, instead of a modified
    Cyrillics. A peculiar sociolinguistic situation
    different generations speaking the same language
    might soon have no common written language.
  • Less populated countries few forums, sites,
    blogs in ethnic languages more diverse views and
    more valuable information may be found abroad.
    Residents of post-Soviet states often have better
    command of Russian than of English.

Reasons for Joining the Russian Internet
community contd
  • Nostalgia towards older times chatting from
    abroad to people someone used to know earlier, or
    to new chatters share hobbies
  • 7. Media in some post-Soviet states are even less
    independent compared to the Russian media
    residents of these countries get access to less
    censured news
  • 8. Politically-minded people keep group
    discussions they blame the communist regime,
    and/or the modern regimes
  • 9. Creative people from outside Russia present
    their artworks to a wider audience compared to
    what is available in their states
  • 10. Russian Internet experts are often advanced.
    Non-Russians subscribe to the Russian language
    newsgroups, surf reviews published on Russian
    web-sites, discuss technical issues.
  • 11. Speakers of Russian residing outside the
    former USSR feel themselves missionaries
    consult in web-related issues, provide
    information (folk or avant-garde music, etc.).

Some references
  • Voiskounsky, A. E. (1999). Internet Culture,
    diversity and unification, Javnost - The Public.
    Journal of the European Institute for
    Communication and Culture, VI(4), 53-65.
  • Voiskounsky, A., and Hilton, T. S. (1995). Global
    networking and remote communities formation,
    Information systems and global competitiveness,
    Proceedings of the International Association for
    Computer Information Systems, Toronto, Canada
    IACIS Press, pp. 282-287.
  • Voiskounsky, A.E. Internet Clusters of
    Attractiveness. (2002). Electronic Journal of
    Communication / La Revue Electronique de
    Communication. Volume 12 (3-4).

Actual Research Areas
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Education
  • Culture Gender Research
  • Linguistics, Literary Art Critics
  • Sociology
  • Applied Statistics
  • Economics
  • Psychology

PhilosophyA seminar at the
Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of
Sciences some edited volumes theses of the
Ph.D. levelseminars at different universities
Major themes new approaches toward the unique
the multiple, the natural the artificial,
the real the virtual new identitiessociality
of gadgets critics and/or development of the
heritage of foreign philosophers (mainly the
French ones), etc.
Culture and Gender Research
  • Research on web cultures in post-Soviet
    post-communist states
  • Digital divide inequality of access to the Web
  • Role of non-residents in the Russian web culture
  • Web-related shift in culture identities
  • Gender identities on the web
  • Gender attitudes toward the Internet use
  • Gender differences in the web use, etc.

Culture Gender (continued) some references
  • Voiskounsky A. (1999). Internet Culture,
    Diversity and Unification. Javnost The Public.
    Journal of the European Institute for
    Communication and Culture, Vol. V(4), pp. 53-65.
  • Voiskounsky A.E. Culture specifics on the
    Internet. Asian-Pacific Human-Computer
    Interaction (APCHI'96) Conf. Proc., Eds. Lim Kee
    Yong, Linda Herman, Ying K. Leung Jackie Moyes.
    Singapore ITI, 1996, pp. 151-161.
  • Voiskounsky A. Internet Culture in Russia.
    Internet-based teaching and learning (IN-TELE)
    99. Proc., IN-TELE 99 Conference. Frankfurt a/M
    Peter Lang, 2001, pp. 36-44.
  • Mitina O.V., Voiskounsky A.E. (2005). GENDER
    IN RUSSIA. To be published in PsychNology
    Journal ( , December, 2005.

  • Projects on distant education
  • Didactics of remote learning in virtual groups
  • Remote competitions for K-12 adults in
    different fields, including effectiveness of the
    web search
  • Advanced teaching programs for gifted talented
  • Education of high-school teachers (governmental
    and/or private programs, e.g.,

Education, continued
  • FIO Federation of Internet Education
  • (in Russian)
  • FIO ( is
  • a non-profit
  • investment into
  • Russian education,
  • owned solely by
  • Since 1999
  • 43 educational
  • centres have been
  • organized (usually
  • located at local
  • Universities).
  • 130,000 teachers
  • have been extensively
  • taught (9 of school teachers in Russia).
  • Source

Linguistics, Literature Art Critics
  • Web fiction verses as an example of a
    postmodern literature
  • Use of hypertexts chats in fiction
  • Digital art as a new cultural phenomenon
  • Web publications a new genre?
  • Investigation of computer slang/argot, SMS
    online genres, etc.
  • The 1st monograph on functioning of Russian
    language on the Internet, by G.Trofimova

Political Science
  • Analysis of web-sites, web-pages web-portals of
    political parties political leaders
  • Web-mediated confrontations between political
  • Web-discussions of modern political theories
  • Web-forums, blogs newsgroups on internal
    external politics in post-Soviet states, etc.
  • Researchers contribute to an official
    e-government Program only several years ago
    Russia took 74th position (out of 103) in the
    rating of the use of web technologies by national
    governments (transparency interactivity were
    estimated). Source http//

  • Digital economics
  • Tendencies toward globalization
  • Web-based economics B2B B2C, etc.
  • High technologies economics
  • Brain drain offshore IT economics
  • Internet as an advertising medium
  • For some information (in English) on IT market
    research, click

  • E-mail online surveys,
  • self-selected respondents
  • Representat-ive fieldwork research, quoted

Sociology (continued)
  • - Amateur census-like survey
    .htm, August-September, 1998, 33,201 respondents
    (2nd survey was held in 1999)
  • - Numerous episodic surveys of certain sites
  • - Episodic Professional Web surveys
    (self-selected respondents). Example Gallup Ltd.
    (May-June, 1999, in S.Peterburg)
  • - Yearly e-mail monitoring (combined
    self-selected and sample-constructing
    principles), 1992 -1998.
  • Brief results are available at
  • Reference Voiskounsky A. (1998).
    Investigation of Relcom Network Users.
    F.Sudweeks et al. (eds.). Network and Netplay
    Virtual Groups on the Internet. AAAI Press/The
    MIT Press, 113-126.

Sociology (continued) Representative
Fieldwork, Internet Audience
  • - the pioneer, started in 1996,
    cities only, kids including, no free data
    available since 2002
  • cities only, no kids, no free data
  • no kids, no free data available
  • or (Austrian company) towns
    only, no kids, no free data available
  • Most of the companies carry on
  • quarterly surveys.
  • (The Public Opinion Foundation)
  • Since 2001 cities/towns/villages no kids
    quarterly research (fieldwork panel), data
    fully available (the last refer to Summer, 2005)
    methodology compatible with that of

Sociology (continued)
  • Several organizations companies (e.g.,,, etc.) carry on
    episodic surveys.
  • International sources present always outdated
    information on the Internet audience in Russia
    e.g., the International Development Corporation ( or, or the US Government
    2000 report
    isa/isar0012, or the eLab report, Vanderbilt
    University, Nashville, Tennessee
    sia, or the F. Ebert Foundat.
  • At the the Russian entries refer to
    outdated figures.

Sociology (continued)The FOM Data (Summer
  • Total regional data
  • Activity of web users
  • Places of web access
  • Interests
  • Total Demography (by gender, age, level of
    education, etc.)
  • Earnings web use

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FOM data (continued)Sociology of web use in
Russia (Summer 2005)No children/teenagers the
data refer to 18
  • 5.9 mln daily aud.
  • 11.2. mln weekly audience
  • 16.1 mln monthly audience
  • 18.9 mln quarterly audience
  • 20.9 mln 6-month audience
  • 19 of population
  • (23 males, 16 females)
  • 57 males,
  • 43 females
  • 38 age 18-24
  • 29 age 25-34
  • 17 age 35-44
  • 13 age 45-54
  • 3 age 55 older

Applied Statistics
  • statistics from the major
    Russian search engine provider Yandex
  • statistics from the
    2nd major search engine provider (based on the
    Ramblers Top 100, i.e. visitors index of the
    most visited Russian URLs)
  • See these two sources to learn
  • the number of unique servers unique URLs,
  • the current amount of content ( 5.00 Gb)

Applied statistics (continued)Yandex
Statistics (May 17, 2004)
  • Black Square (under painter Malevich).
  • A click within the square
    opens a webserver
  • Weekly index of the most popular
  • key-words inserted (6,000,000 a day) for the
    Yandex webspider.

Applied statistics (continued)Index of daily
activity (from the Rambler Statistics)
  • 2/3 residents of Russia
  • 7-9 Ukrainians
  • 2.0 USA/Canadians
  • Less than 2.0
  • Israeli
  • Estonians
  • Germans
  • Byelarussians
  • Kazakhstans

The main websites on cyberpsychology (in Russian)
  • http//www.relarn.ru8080/human/
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//
  • http//

Psychology (projects)
  • Identity transformations (some diploma PHD
  • Comparative research of the development of the
    Internet users communities in the
    Eastern/Central European transient post-communist
    states (Moscow/Ljubljana Univ.)
  • Internet addiction
  • Gender issues on the Internet
  • Attitudes towards hacking, and motivation of
  • (see the next two slides)
  • Flow in online gaming (comparative study samples
    of Russian, French Chinese MUDders)
  • IT-Giftedness
  • Psychology of Cyberethics

Psychology Projects (contd)
  • The next slide will be illustrative of the
    development of computer hackers intrinsic
    motivation, namely the flow motivation.
  • It is illustrated as a balance/counterbalance of
    the available skills of task challenges.

(No Transcript)
Psychology (continued)REFERENCES
  • Arestova, O., Babanin, L., Voiskounsky, A.
    (1999). Psychological Research of
    Computer-Mediated Communication in Russia.
    Behaviour and Information Technology, 18 (2),
  • Voiskounsky A. (1998). Investigation of Relcom
    Network Users. In F.Sudweeks et al. (eds.).
    Network and Netplay Virtual Groups on the
    Internet. AAAI Press/The MIT Press, 113-126.
  • Voiskounsky A.E., Babaeva J.D., Smyslova O.V.
    Attitudes towards computer hacking in Russia.
    Cybercrime Law Enforcement, Security and
    Surveillance in the Information Age. Ed. By
    D.Thomas B.Loader. L. NY Routledge, 2000,
    pp. 56-84.

Psychology (continued)References (Continued)
  • Babaeva J.D., Voiskounsky A.E. IT-Giftedness in
    Children and Adolescents. Educational Technology
    Society, vol. 5(1), 2002, pp. 154-162.
    a.html , http//
  • Voiskounsky A.E., Smyslova O.V. Flow-Based Model
    of Computer Hackers Motivation. CyberPsychology
    Behavior, Vol. 6, ? 3, 2003, pp. 171-180.
  • Voiskounsky A.E., Smyslova O.V. Flow in Computer
    Hackers Activity. // 8th International
    Conference on Motivation (Workshop on Achievement
    and Task Motivation). Abstracts. Moscow, 2002,
    pp. 128-129.
  • Voiskounsky A.E., Smyslova O.V. Flow in computer
    hacking A model. Lecture Notes in Computer
    Science, vol. 2713. Berlin e.a. Springer,
    2003, pp. 176-186.

Factor models for Russian French samples of
MUDders (explorative analysis)
  • Russians
  • F1 Flow
  • F2 Achievements
  • F3 Activity vs. passivity
  • F4 Interaction
  • F5 Thoughtfulness
  • vs. spontaneity
  • F6 Cognition
  • French
  • F1 Achievements
  • F2 Interaction and Cognition
  • F3 Flow

Psychology (continued)References
  • Voiskounsky A.E., Mitina O.V., Avetisova A.A.
    Communicative Patterns and Flow Experience of MUD
    Players. Int. J. of
  • Advanced Media and Communication, V 1(1), 2005,
    pp. 5-25.
  • Voiskounsky A.E., Mitina O.V., Avetisova A.A.
    Playing Online Games Flow Experience.
    PsychNology Journal, 2004, Volume 2, Number 3,
    pp. 259 281.

Cyberethics Meets Developmental Psychology
  • Open-ended questions on moral judgments show
  • Adolescents/kids often fail to transfer
    well-known moral norms to less known, e.g.
    virtual environments.
  • In the Cyberspace they lack ethical
    sensitivity, that is, the ability to distinguish
    moral/immoral behavior.

What is needed, world-wide
  • research of Web-related moral views judgments
    of children/adolescents
  • education program to be worked out taught, to
    update Web-related moral values of K-12 students
  • teach globe-wide, every language Cyberspace
    is global indeed.

  • Voiskounsky A. Current problems of moral research
    and education in the IT environment. Human
    Perspectives in the Internet Society Culture,
    Psychology and Gender. K.Morgan, C.A.Brebbia,
    J.Sanchez, A.Voiskounsky (eds.). WIT Press
    Southampton, Boston, 2004, pp. 33-41.
  • Voiskounsky A.E. Virtual Environments the need
    of advanced moral education. Ethics of New
    Information Technology. Proceedings of the 6th
    Internation?l Conference of Computer Ethics
    Philosophical Enquiry (CEPE2005). Ed. by Ph.
    Brey, F. Grodzinsky, L. Introna. Enshede, the
    Netherlands CTIT Publ., 2005, pp. 389-395.

THE END(for today)