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In Defense of the "Fathers": A Closer Look at Eugene Gorny and Roman Leibov

Article / I write about an unexpected scandal, and the origins of Russian Internet culture.

In early May 2010, a scandal raged over the Russian blogosphere—Russian philologists Eugene Gorny and Roman Leibov, neither of whom have any technological background, were named “Founding Fathers of the Russian Internet” on the pages of a program for a weekend conference titled, “The Etiology and Ecology of Post-Soviet Communication,” at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute.

The “founding fathers” designation resulted in a heated internet debate about the Russian internet (runet)—some argued about technological qualifications, while others questioned how the internet, which is a conglomeration of everybody’s ideas, could have any “fathers” at all. The truth of the matter is that Gorny, who had suggested the name in order to provoke, had used it ironically. “You have to be an idiot to take this hyperbole seriously,” Gorny said at the conference. However, the statement did have a grain of truth—both men played a significant role in shaping the cultural evolution of runet.

Read the article on the Harriman Institute's website.


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