The Conflict Between "Fiziki" and "Liriki" in Contemporary Russian Prose: Semiotic Analysis of Alexey Ivanov's "Community"

Russian traditional conflict between so-called "fiziki" and "liriki", the terms referring to representatives of sciences and arts respectively, resulted in greater interest of Russian society towards hardware than towards software in the broad meaning. In turn, that is a serious obstacle to Russian modernization. Dmitry Travin famously noted that when Peter the Great travelled to the Netherlands in search for experience potentially helpful for Russian modernization, he learned a lot from Dutch experience in shipbuilding (hardware), but he neglected Dutch experience in self-governance of cities (software) as irrelevant. In a similar manner, recently Russian elite willingly accepted Western experience in the field on nanotechnologies (hardware), but it neglected Western experience in the field of human rights (software). As a result, Russian modernization was only a partial success in both early 18th and early 21st centuries. Despite almost thirty years passed since Yury Lotman famously suggested that science is closer to arts than it is to technology, the conflict between "fiziki" and "liriki" continued in the post-Communist Russia. Contemporary Russian literature reflects that conflict. This study undertakes semiotic analysis of Alexey Ivanov’s novel titled “Community”, which is one of his series of novels about “dangerology”, a fictional science aimed at studying physical influence of artistic objects on human lives. This particular novel tells the story of an artistic object that was created online before it spilled over the border separating virtual and real worlds and started damaging lives of some characters of the novel. The novel describes two creators of the virtual artistic object, a computer programmer ("fizik") and a copywriter ("lirik"), both male, as antagonists separated by contradicting values and lifestyles and by romantic feelings towards the main female character. The study concludes that Alexey Ivanov’s “Community” is another proof of the importance of the conflict between "fiziki" and "liriki" for contemporary Russian society.

Presents in panel 5G

Presents in panel 6C

Presents in panel 5E

Presents in panel 6B

E-Government in Russia: Indicators, Problems and Opportunities for Development

The paper gives an assessment of the development of e-government in Russia from 2008 to 2018 on the basis of indicators of the e-government development index of the United Nations. E-government contributes to the development of the state's information infrastructure, improves the efficiency of public service delivery to the society and attracts the public to participate in the process of developing and adopting government decisions. Paper presents a comparative analysis of the development of the electronic government of Russia with countries such as Great Britain, the USA, Denmark, France, etc. The key issues of improving e-government in Russia are identified on the basis of the UN e-government development index. This indicator allows us to assess whether the state is ready to provide electronic public services to citizens and what are its opportunities for using information and communication technologies in providing these services.

Russia has relatively good indicators of e-government development in the world, and the introduction of e-government is quite fast. But, in comparison with the leading countries, Russia still lags far behind in many respects. This is due to the following reasons:

1) Huge territory of the Russian Federation, as the small size of the country contributes to a faster and more effective implementation and development of e-government;
2) Low level of distribution of electronic services;
3) Low activity of mobile communication;
4) Relatively weak dynamics of the increase in the number of Internet users;
5) Lack of the necessary law regulatory framework.

After eliminating these shortcomings, further progress in the introduction and development of e-government in Russia can increase several fold. To do this, it is necessary to pay more attention to the development of information and communication technologies in Russia, in particular in the area of IT staff development; to increase the technological literacy of the population, teaching the basics of information and communication technologies in schools, in secondary professional and higher educational institutions, as well as at work in the field. Particular attention should be paid to the development of a clear regulatory framework with specific rights and duties of citizens in the use of electronic government that provides and guarantees of the security of personal data.

Presents in panel 2A

Civil Activity of Students in the Russian Social Network "Vkontakte": Constructive and Destructive Regional Manifestations

Aim - identification and interpretation of manifestations of civil Internet activity (constructive and destructive) of students of the Saratov region in different types of socio-political discourses, in the arguments of destructive language identification in the social network "Vkontakte".

Background. Understanding the genesis of the problems of civil activity today is the focus of different socio-political sciences. Civil activity in the socio-political sense is one of the forms of social activity, expressed in a caring attitude to the problems of society, the ability and desire to defend group and personal rights and interests. In modern political conditions, there is a growing need to study civil youth activity, which takes different forms of expression and reflects the current political, economic, socio-cultural values of society. The significance of this study is confirmed by statistical data of research centers, which demonstrate the accumulated social tension and dissatisfaction in the Russian society (public opinion Fund survey on the protest moods of Russians January, 2019, N=3000/ https://fom.ru). At the same time, creative and destructive manifestations of civil activity of Russian students are observed both in the real environment and in the Internet space.

Modern online space has become not just a tool, but a platform for the implementation of practices of civil activism. Civil Internet activism is defined as conscious purposeful actions (actions) of individual citizens or groups in the online-space, built around a specific situation-problems and aimed at solving it. This article will present the results of content analysis of discursive (constructive and destructive) manifestations of civic activity of students in the Russian regional social network.

Methods. The study  (the reported study was funded by RFBR and EISR according to the research project № 19-011-31001) is aimed at interpreting the content of civil youth activism in the social network "Vkontakte" and conducted using the method of content analysis of information. Groups of social network "Vkontakte" were selected for analysis through the search system of the network and, based on the results of surveys of students of the Saratov region, conducted by the authors in 2019. The criteria for the selection of the group were: its popularity, daily filling with new content and a significant presence in the group of young people. The process of analysis enabled to form criteria for evaluation and classification of the features of the content of civil activism in social networks: popularity, evaluation, komentiruete, replicability, participation, constructiveness / destructiveness of the content.

Findings. The article defines popularity trends of specific topics that reflect the civic activism of young people among the groups of the network "Vkontakte". All selected groups of the network "Vkontakte" are arranged in accordance with the largest number of messages, leadership in the number of likes, comments. This indicated the level of audience attention to the published information and its involvement. Markers of the destructive content are as follows: the stream of insults, threats, defamation, denial of socio-political regime; the presence of foul, abusive, offensive spoken language.

Several bright cases of constructive and destructive civic activity of young people were selected and analyzed. Cases included content that was present in the form of an Internet meme, flame, fail, trolling.

Conclusion/Recommendations. The growth of active involvement of young people in various civil practices requires finding a mechanism to deter destructive forms of manifestation of civil activity in the online space and reorientation to positive civil activity. The article suggests directions for modeling activation of creative potential of civil activity of youth to reduce destructive orientation, maintain safety and social stability of society are offered.

Presents in panel 5A (co-authored with Vsevolod Bederson) and 7C (co-authored with Veronika Shcheblanova and Larisa Loginova)

Civil Activity of Students in the Russian Social Network "Vkontakte": Constructive and Destructive Regional Manifestations

Aim - identification and interpretation of manifestations of civil Internet activity (constructive and destructive) of students of the Saratov region in different types of socio-political discourses, in the arguments of destructive language identification in the social network "Vkontakte".

Background. Understanding the genesis of the problems of civil activity today is the focus of different socio-political sciences. Civil activity in the socio-political sense is one of the forms of social activity, expressed in a caring attitude to the problems of society, the ability and desire to defend group and personal rights and interests. In modern political conditions, there is a growing need to study civil youth activity, which takes different forms of expression and reflects the current political, economic, socio-cultural values of society. The significance of this study is confirmed by statistical data of research centers, which demonstrate the accumulated social tension and dissatisfaction in the Russian society (public opinion Fund survey on the protest moods of Russians January, 2019, N=3000/ https://fom.ru). At the same time, creative and destructive manifestations of civil activity of Russian students are observed both in the real environment and in the Internet space.

Modern online space has become not just a tool, but a platform for the implementation of practices of civil activism. Civil Internet activism is defined as conscious purposeful actions (actions) of individual citizens or groups in the online-space, built around a specific situation-problems and aimed at solving it. This article will present the results of content analysis of discursive (constructive and destructive) manifestations of civic activity of students in the Russian regional social network.

Methods. The study is aimed at interpreting the content of civil youth activism in the social network "Vkontakte" and conducted using the method of content analysis of information. Groups of social network "Vkontakte" were selected for analysis through the search system of the network and, based on the results of surveys of students of the Saratov region, conducted by the authors in 2019. The criteria for the selection of the group were: its popularity, daily filling with new content and a significant presence in the group of young people. The process of analysis enabled to form criteria for evaluation and classification of the features of the content of civil activism in social networks: popularity, evaluation, komentiruete, replicability, participation, constructiveness / destructiveness of the content.

Findings. The article defines popularity trends of specific topics that reflect the civic activism of young people among the groups of the network "Vkontakte". All selected groups of the network "Vkontakte" are arranged in accordance with the largest number of messages, leadership in the number of likes, comments. This indicated the level of audience attention to the published information and its involvement. Markers of the destructive content are as follows: the stream of insults, threats, defamation, denial of socio-political regime; the presence of foul, abusive, offensive spoken language.

Several bright cases of constructive and destructive civic activity of young people were selected and analyzed. Cases included content that was present in the form of an Internet meme, flame, fail, trolling.

Conclusion/Recommendations. The growth of active involvement of young people in various civil practices requires finding a mechanism to deter destructive forms of manifestation of civil activity in the online space and reorientation to positive civil activity. The article suggests directions for modeling activation of creative potential of civil activity of youth to reduce destructive orientation, maintain safety and social stability of society are offered.

This paper is co-authored with Veronika Shcheblanova and Irina Surkova

Presents in panel 7F

Remaking Networked Citizenship: Visibility, Ephemerality and Agency on the Russian Internet

The digitally mediated reality offers a number of affordances to social media users for communication, self-expression and exercising political agency. But these affordances aren’t always possibilities for action: often, they can limit the potential for empowering citizens, as governments seek to use digital media to reaffirm their control over the public sphere. This paper focuses on understanding how the work of Russian digital rights advocates connects to the broader context of political activism and how it modifies the concept of networked citizenship in Russia’s conditions of networked authoritarianism (Marechal 2017).

The Russian government’s crackdown on free speech online has seen social media users jailed and fined for publishing critical content. Many RuNet users today see the classical affordances of networked publics – permanence, replicability, scalability, searchability (boyd 2010) and visibility (Pearce et al. 2018) – as threats to their freedom and their livelihood. This narrowing of free space for critical debate has also led activists to seek out less public, less visible and more ephemeral means of exercising their citizen agency. While digital rights activists have implored Russians to delete their accounts on platforms that cooperate with law enforcement (such as VK), they have also advocated for the use of secure tools, such as VPNs, proxy servers or encrypted messaging. Increasingly, Russians are taking their political discourse to messaging platforms like Telegram, Signal and WhatsApp that offer encrypted chatting and disappearing messages. Activists have also been moving to host their websites on servers outside Russia to make their work less susceptible to Russian state censorship, blocking and filtering. In view of all this, I argue that Russian digital activists are seeking to redefine the affordances of social media for active networked citizenship.

Using public statements and online posts by Russian state regulators and by key Russian digital rights activists from 2015-2019, I conduct a comparative narrative analysis of how both parties interpret networked citizenship and what these narratives can tell us about specific affordances of networked media. I find that the networked authoritarian Russian state embraces the ideal of the ‘dutiful citizen’ online as visible, vulnerable and controlled, exploiting the melding of public and private aspects of networked publics. Instead, Russian digital rights activists advocate for a ‘self-actualising citizen’ (Bennet 2008) who exercises their agency online by becoming less visible, more ephemeral, and therefore more secure. This reinterpretation contests boyd’s traditional concept of affordances of networked publics (2010) and questions conventional ideas of citizenship, agency and digital rights. I also suggest that the “below the radar” activities of digital activists, though harder to trace and to study, are all the more important for understanding how the affordances of social media can diverge from the traditional Western-centric models when applied to undemocratic, authoritarian or totalitarian environments.

Presents in panel 7F

Symbolic Capital of Territories of "Analogue" and "Digital" Generations of Russians

Based on the socio-semiotic theory of representation, the concept of the symbolic capital of the place, ideas about the “analogue” and “digital” media generations, 157 audiovisual messages reflecting the symbolic capital of the Russian territories, in particular the Urals Federal District, are analyzed. The study aims to reveal a complex of diverse semiotic resources, “multimodal ensembles” of the representation of symbolic capital in the institutional and non-institutional texts of the “analogue” and “digital” generations of actors.

The chosen research method is a multimodal discourse analysis. Its methodology was specially developed by the author. It includes the following parameters: institutional and non-institutional messages, messages from actors of the “analogue” and “digital” generations, symbolic capital of the place, ways of representing symbolic capital in multimodal texts.

The results of the research indicate various generational “multimodal ensembles” of messages and, as a result, only partially coinciding “worlds in the frame”.

Without exception, institutional actors designate industrial capital of the territories, with the leading infrastructure triad of provincial actors «factory - Orthodox temple - palace of culture”, and the most common bunch of actors of a megapolis “architecture - socio-cultural and business objects - transport”. Natural landscapes, personalities and the search for signs of development are the subject of interest of institutional and non-institutional actors of the “analogue” and “digital” generations of provincial territories. “Kindness, responsiveness, hospitality and patience of the locals” is the symbolic capital of the institutional actors of the provincial territories. Sometimes it is due to difficult working conditions and everyday life, which emphasizes the value of “living in spite of”, and the leading ideology of institutional actors of the “analogue” generation of provincial territories is declared only as “work as a symbol of happiness”. This ideologeme is not accepted, it is not a valuable capital for the audience of the “digital generation”.

Summarizing the results of the study, we can state the coexistence of multiple subcultures of the translation of the Symbolic capital of territories meanings due to institutionalization, belonging to the “analogue” or “digital” generation of actors, the level of ownership and demand in the territories of digital technologies in the production of audio-visual messages. The “multimodal ensembles” of mixed texts are more diverse, provided they are produced by the “digital” generation.

Composition, accents of multimodal texts - everything works on semantic setting, peculiar to this or that generation of actors. Discourses generated and transmitted by institutional and non-institutional actors, especially the “analogue” and digital generations, are only partially intersecting sign-symbol systems. As a result, different interpretations are given to the same territories (events and phemomena), and different dominants are represented. The common place is the symbolic capital of natural resources and development markers. A distinctive feature of the institutional, especially actors of the “analogue” generation, is the emphasis on industrial and human, and the non-institutional, especially “digital” generation - on economic, cultural and social capitals of the territories.

This paper is co-authored with Anna Sumskaya 

Teacher Innovation Potential in the Context of Russian Digital Policy in Education

Aim
The purpose of this study is to give insights into the innovation potential of Russian teachers understood as their readiness to bring a substantial change into their classroom through information and communication technologies’ (ICT) integration.

Background
Over the last decades most countries of the globe are striving for modernization and progress in educational sphere. Having recognized a high potential of schools’ transformation for transition to the knowledge society, digital economy and rapid growth, massive investments in information and communication technologies (ICT) are being made by the national governments and policies concerning digitalisation are being developed. Russia is not an exception in this regard: this year Russian policy makers have enacted a complex national policy aimed at digitalisation of educational system.
Despite a global trend of political initiatives in the sphere of digitalisation, a number of studies in different national settings have observed the discrepancy between policy imperatives with regard to ICT use and its actual integration in teaching and learning. As has been shown, success of any reform depends on the way it is conceived and interpreted on the level of actors. There is a significant shift from the concept of policy implementation towards policy enactment, which acknowledges the critical role of interpretative and adaptive work of actors in education in success of educational transformations. Thus, it becomes essential whether, firstly, teachers are prepared to embrace newly-introduced digital policies and, secondly, to what extent digital policy encompasses activities aimed at teacher transformation.

Methods
For the sake of the present research, eight semi-structured interviews with Moscow-based secondary school teachers were conducted in October, 2018. The sample for the study was constructed from the participants of informal teacher development program organized by the “Geek Teachers” project in co-operation with the Institute of Education, Higher School of Economics. Interviewees belonged to a broad variety of academic disciplines and had professional experience ranging from 4 to 45 years.
Qualitative thematic analysis was employed as a core method of working with interviews. Analysis was directed towards extracting similar discursive themes within different interviews. A set of a priori codes were defined prior to the analysis, and additional empirical codes were added during data examination.

Findings
As suggested by research findings, teachers construct their lessons in two different ways with regard to ICT. One group employs digital pedagogy practices by integrating technologies primarily to engage and motivate students. They express their agency with regard to new technologies and use them in an autonomous and self-managing way. These teachers are involved in the community of ICT-minded colleagues, which serves as a key resource for their professional development. Being motivated enough to embrace new technologies, they are seeking the ways to expand their knowledge and acquire new skills outside of what is offered by formal training. This group of professionals act proactively towards ICT and is open to innovations. Another group, although acknowledging potential of ICT, are more reluctant to change their established practices and embrace digital resources. According to the data, they developed a dependent position towards technologies and believe that they do not have to look for additional ways for professional learning.

Conclusion/recommendations
Data suggests the necessity of the changes in the policies of teacher professional training. Teachers should be effectively supported to move from abstract political decisions to the situation in a specific classroom. Hence, elements of collaborative learning should become a crucial part of development, since it has proved to be efficient for successful curriculum change and implementation of new approaches. Elaborating training programs based on collaborative research design will help teachers to develop “ownership of the change”. Moreover, such peer-to-peer learning would provide teachers with knowledge that has been “encoded” from the language of political imperatives into more feasible and clear strategies and activities.
Apart from elaboration of further training programs, new decisions should emphasize the importance of the personality of innovative teachers who possess a high agency and are integrating digital pedagogy approaches into their teaching repertoire. As the data suggests, these teachers have a capacity to boost digital transformation by diffusing their knowledge, transforming social environment around them and encouraging other teachers embrace new technologies. Hence, part of educational policy may be centered on those professionals whose motivation and competence can be employed for transformations within one or several schools in the region. In this process it is important to work with school principals, whose perceptions of ICT are of a high importance, consequently, more policies should be aimed at training school leaders. More control and autonomy should be brought onto school level, so that school leadership would be able to be involved in decision-making process with regard to ICT on the level of their school and to develop pathways on integrating technologies that account for the specificities of their school.

Presents in panel 4F

Educating Young Technological Entrepreneur in the Epoch of Disruptive Innovations

This paper is aimed to describe the peculiarities of education of young technological entrepreneurs on the example of the university environment of Russia.

Background: Under the conditions of globalization, the governments of countries are directing their efforts towards the formation of sustainable competitive advantages of the national economies of their countries. In this regard, innovations, new technologies play an important role providing a breakthrough in the strategic development of the country. Over the past decade, the Russian government has introduced a number of legislative initiatives to support the environment for the creation of innovations, new technologies.

However, existing studies of technological entrepreneurship do not reveal the diversity of trends and organizational forms of technological entrepreneurship, as sources of the formation of young technological entrepreneurs who are ready to create disruptive innovations that can predict the needs of the innovation market.

So, the systematization of the typology of youth technology entrepreneurship is needed.
Methods: The qualitative modeling was used to identify the organizational forms of technological entrepreneurship in leading universities in Russia.

Findings: The main directions of youth technology entrepreneurship were identified according to the results of the process of describing the circle of participants involved in the development of youth technology entrepreneurship in the Russian Federation.

Directions are divided into 5 groups.

The first group includes tools to support youth technology entrepreneurship, which, in turn, is divided into two subgroups: public relations and financing. The second group as education is divided into 3 subgroups: pre-university, university and postgraduate. The third group includes external counseling and internal university counseling. The fourth group is aimed at developing technologies in three formats: technology transfer, commercialization of research results and R&D, inventions and discoveries by scientists, teachers, graduate students and university students and their implementation into production. The latter group is purposed at creating an effective ecosystem of technological entrepreneurship and is divided into 4 subgroups: university development, creating a platform for the community, ensuring the effectiveness of technological entrepreneurship and cooperation.

According to the results of the data analysis, the scope of consideration of the umbrella term “technological entrepreneurship” was expanded in connection with the diversity of areas and organizational forms of its manifestation.

Conclusion:
In the districts / regions / cities in which there are traditionally strong participants with a history of technology development (availability of scientific schools, number of inventions and patents, number of scientific publications, media representation, number of inventions implemented into production, cooperation programs with industrial businesses structures, government institutions) currently play a key role in the development of technological entrepreneurship.

The availability of funding in an organization is not a key factor for participation in technology entrepreneurship, but the decisive role is played by employees who have experience in this field and have the competence to promote this area.

In the short and long term, universities/ educational organizations with highly professional employees who are able to build flexible models of interaction with structures / organizations will be drivers for the formation and development of technological entrepreneurship base.

This paper is co-authored with Anna Kovaleva 

Presents in panel 6F

Presents in panel 2G

Re-Mixing Memories, Re-Shaping Protests: Historical Internet Memes as a Means of Framing Protest Campaigns in Ukraine and Venezuela

Internet memes are important part of today’s digital culture. Defined by Shifman (2011) as digital content units sharing common characteristics of content, form and stance, memes are often discussed as online entertainment products. Yet, memes’ functionality goes far beyond entertainment: by re-mixing and re-interpreting existing cultural objects to produce new pieces of online content, meme-makers shape cultural and political identities. Under these conditions, internet memes increasingly become an effective means of political communication, being used to frame political statements in a humorous and amateurish way and embed them into viral online content.

The qualities of internet memes make them particularly effective tools of online protest campaigns. By arousing strong affective reactions, memes facilitate mobilization of supporters and contribute to protesters’ identity building by conveying a variety of social, cultural, and political meanings. These memetic affordances are especially important for non- and partially free media systems where citizens often have limited possibility to comment on pressing societal issues and employ means of participatory culture for political and cultural self-expression. Memes, however, can also lead to societal polarization by evoking emotional responses to stigmatize specific social groups and forming their negative identities. In the latter cases, memes often instrumentalize cultural objects related to historical traumas and conflicts for amplifying and contextualizing their aggressive message.

In our paper, we examine how internet memes were used during protest campaign in Ukraine in 2013-2014 and in Venezuela in 2018-2019. Our choice of case studies is based on two reasons: firstly, existing research rarely adopts comparative perspective and primarily focuses on Western democracies, whereas the role of memes in non-Western contexts remains under-investigated. By looking on Ukraine and Venezuela, we compare the use of memes in Eastern European and Latin American media systems which share a number of similarities (e.g. limitations of press freedom, the bursty rise of internet penetration and use of digital media for political self-expression). Secondly, both Ukraine and Venezuela recently experienced significant societal upheavals accompanied by the intense instrumentalization of digital culture products by pro- and anti-regime actors. Yet, how different or similar are these instrumental practices depending on the political leaning of their agents is currently an open question.

Using qualitative content analysis, we analyzed a large set of memes produced and distributed by pro- and anti-regime activists in Ukraine and Venezuela through major social media platforms (e.g. Vkontakte, Facebook and Twitter). We employed inductive coding approach to identify features of internet memes related to their a) content features: what kind of cultural objects were re-mixed to produce the meme; b) political features: what was the political message behind a specific memes; c) historical features: what kind of historical references were used to amplify the meme’s message. Our analysis indicated that despite significant differences in terms of specific cultural objects used for memes construction, the ways political and historical features were used turned to be similar (e.g. in both countries pro-regime activists were more eager to deploy references to the past traumas).

This paper is co-authored with Juan Manuel González González 

 

Trolls, Bots and Everyone Else: Online Disinformation Campaigns and 2019 Presidential Elections in Ukraine

Today, online disinformation campaigns are increasingly employed to manipulate and alter public opinion in the context of elections. The use of coordinated disinformation efforts was traced in the recent elections in the US (Faris et al. 2017), France (Ferrara 2017) and Italy (Cresci et al. 2017). The purposes of these efforts varied from attacking specific candidates (Ferrara 2017) to forming negative attitudes towards certain social groups (Bennett & Livingston 2018). By doing so, disinformation campaigns corrode the foundations of democratic systems and increase societal polarization by dividing citizens along partisan lines (Tucker 2018).

The research on online disinformation during elections is focused on two categories of agents: automated ones and human ones. The former are automated social media accounts (sock puppets) used to generate large volumes of content to support/attack candidates (Bessi & Ferrara 2016). The latter are human actors disseminating false information to condemn (i.e. “troll”) or praise (i.e. “elf”) candidates and their supporters (Bradshaw & Howard 2017). Until now, however, these two categories of agents are usually discussed separately, whereas in practice organized disinformation campaigns often involve both of them

In our paper, we analyze the involvement of both automated and human agents in the online disinformation efforts during 2019 presidential elections in Ukraine. Two reasons motivate our choice of case study: firstly, as part of the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Ukraine is frequently targeted by online disinformation campaigns sponsored by Russia (Mejias & Vokuev 2017). Considering the importance of presidential elections in Ukraine for the further course of the conflict it is highly probable that such campaigns would occur. Secondly, under the conditions of the ongoing information warfare, domestic Ukrainian actors increasingly adopt disinformation techniques to target their political opponents (Zhdanova & Orlova 2017) that further increases polarization in the Ukrainian society.

To examine the interactions between human- and bot-produced disinformation and polarization in Ukraine, we are going to address the following research questions: How much online content was produced by bots and trolls compared with ordinary users in the case of specific candidates? How messages produced by bots and trolls differed in terms of the format and the purpose? And what was the impact of disinformation campaigns and if trolls or bots were more effective?

To implement our research, we used Twitter REST API and captured tweets including the last names of the candidates with the highest electoral ratings in Cyrillic and Latin scripts between February 9 and April 30 2019. As an initial step for identifying disinformation agents, we used the anomalous frequency of posting and distinct positive/negative sentiment of content produced (Borra et al. 2017). We then differentiated between trolls and bots using logistic regression techniques based on user metadata and activity features (Ferrara 2017; Im et al. 2019). For comparing the content of messages produced by trolls and bots we used Latent Dirichlet Allocation model to identify the most common themes. Finally, for evaluating the impact of disinformation we employed Hawkes processes to assess the diffusion of manipulative content (Zannettou et al. 2018).

This paper is co-authored with Aleksandra Urman 

Presents in panel 4G and 7D

#New_Media — a New Dimension of Political Conflicts? the Securitization of Coercive Economic Sanctions in Russian and American Digital Media After the Ukraine Crisis.

The current project aims to investigate the role of #new_media (social networking websites, news websites, and online newspapers) in facilitating global conflicts on the example of coercive economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and counter-sanctions introduced by the Russian government against the U.S. after the Ukraine crisis (2014–2018). The highly controversial annexation of Crimea and the military invasion of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine have brought the question of international security back on stage and have created an unprecedented case of political tensions between Russia and the United States since the end of the Cold War.

Many studies prove that both traditional and new media play an indispensable role in creating and promoting antagonistic images of Russia and the West (Kabel, 2017; Joao, 2017; Saarinen, 2017). Based on the theory of securitization of the Copenhagen School of Security Studies (Buzan, Waever and de Wilde, 1998; Waever, 1995 etc.) and a sociological theory of sanctions elucidated by M.D. Jaeger (2018), it is argued that mutual U.S.-Russian economic sanctions established after the Ukraine crisis in 2014 have contributed to and have become one of the main reasons why Russia and the U.S. securitize each other as a “threat” to international order and stability. Consequently, focused on both the political and medial dimension of the conflict, the study aims to fill the gap in the existing literature on international coercive sanctions, viewing the imposition of U.S.-Russian mutual sanctions as a discursively constructed conflict, which is based on incompatible ideas of the “right” world order and competing identity values.

The study is also based on the combination of discourse analysis (more specifically, the sociology of knowledge approach to discourse developed by Keller (2013) and a promising method of social network analysis (SNA) elaborated by Marin and Wellman (2011), which are considered to be a fruitful methodological contribution to the analysis of the discussions in Russian and American social networking websites and other types of digital media (more specifically, Twitter, Facebook, and Vkontakte, the leading Russian-language social network). Therefore, the study aims to uncover the main "security arguments" expressed by both sides of the conflict and the role of #new_media in the securitization of mutual economic sanctions in Russian and American Digital Media.

Presents in panel 5C

 

Museification and Memefication in the Digital Literary Spaces and Media

Within the past decade, many traditional paper-based scholarly projects in the humanities have been supplemented with sophisticated digital components. This trend is especially true of projects that aim at historical contextualization, presenting and organizing multi-media and multi-modal sources, as well as curated literary projects, such as anthologies. The paper focuses on the structural challenges posed by digitization, on the transformation of form and content between the different paper-based and virtual media, and on the problems and opportunities this creates both on the end of production and of reception. Drawing on notable examples of successful digital projects in the humanities, the paper argues that these projects usually activate two different principles of content presentation, thus partly determining how the content will be interacted with: that of museification (emphasizing synchronic and diachronic connections to other artefacts, themselves organized in a neutral “a-temporal” space) and of memefication (emphasizing the temporal indexing of the content, and its appeal “here and now” to live users who are thereby drawn into taking part in its dissemination). Drawing on our own experience of curating a digital iteration of the paper-based literary anthology we co-edited (Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine, Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2017), we examine the respective advantages and shortcomings of these models, with a view to developing a carefully curated hybrid model that taps into the positive aspects of the other two. Such a model, we argue, would both enhance learning as well as keep the target audience maximally actively engaged with the content. The paper emphasizes that the practical question of “how to go digital” cannot be answered in isolation from the theoretical questions raised by the use of digital tools, the possibilities they open up to enhancing our cognition, and the dangers they pose in exploiting and tapping into our cognitive limitations.

This paper is co-authored with Max Rosochinsky 

Culture Values of Russian Engineers Through the Lens of the Social Networking Service

One of the reasons of the popularity of the profession “engineer” in the Soviet times was the opportunity to bring maximum benefit to the country. In the 1990s, the prestige of technical education in Russia began to fade. People chose other professions: economy, law and management. However during recent years due to the development of IT, the popularity of engineers is increasing again. According to Daniel Ferguson (2017) there are many features of a modern engineer.

Using the most popular Russian social networking service “VK” we find out the features of Russian engineers and their culture values. With the special tool “VK API” we extracted profile data from Russia which that identify themselves as engineers through their professional position. For each of the 36 978 identified users we obtained their account information (sex, age, hometown, education and etc.), interests (favorite music, movies, following communities and etc.) and most recent posts. With this dataset sample, we answered the following questions:
– What are the demographics of engineer sample in terms of gender, location, preferences, educational and professional experience? Are there any “female” or “male” specialities?
– How mobile engineers are in terms of geography, and what influences their mobility?
– How do engineers follow each other on the VK and who are the most “respectful” user in these connections? Are there any barriers and boundaries within the engineer profession?

Presents in panel 5E
 

Presents in panel 2E

The Bicycle Craze of 1890s Ukraine from a Global Perspective

Despite the fact that the Russian Empire was late in launching its own mass production of bicycles, the elites were quick to purchase imported bikes from the West. A decade before automobiles arrived, modern type of bicycles, with wheels of the same size, a chain-drive transmission, and air-filled tires, became the most prestigious means of individual transport. This presentation will focus on early marketing strategies of American bicycle producing companies and the impact they had on public debate, mobility and traffic regulations in Kyiv and Eastern Europe.

Presents in panel 6D

Technical Staff or Cultural Mediators? Multiple Roles of Court Interpreters in Legal Proceedings in Today’s Russia

Migration has become a crucial phenomenon that is reshaping societies, politics and legal systems around the globe. One of the highly contentious topics in migration studies scholarship is migrants’ access to justice. Despite the large diversity of approaches to this issue, not much has been said about how migrants gain access to justice in non-Western migration regimes and the role played by court interpreters in these processes. Mass migration is changing the make-up of criminal justice proceedings, rendering court interpreters key participants in the criminal justice system in today’s Russia. Foreign-language interpreters are routinely called to assist non-Russian-speaking arrestees in police custody, witnesses and defendants before the courts and offenders during post-court proceedings. However, due to lack of trust towards interpreters and high cost of their services some groups of jurists would prefer to replace them with technical devices. The overall aim of my paper is to discuss the increased reliance on interpreters and the nature of their involvement in criminal justice proceedings in today’s Russia. Against expectations by some court participants that interpreters should operate as a ‘translation machine’, a ‘mechanical mouthpiece’, where they limit themselves to literally translating what is being said from one language to another, my research has shown that in practice they are far from being passive and ‘invisible’ participants. There are different subgroups of interpreters with specific characteristics. The paper aims to analyze the activities of court interpreters in pre-trial proceedings, trial hearings and appeals. Special attention will be devoted to the particular interests of court interpreters, their formal and informal relations with litigants and jurists. The paper will consider the main factors influencing differentiation of court interpreters and various models of their interaction with other participants of legal proceedings. The study has been conducted at the intersection of migration studies and sociology of law. It draws in particular on Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of the juridical field. The empirical base of my study is qualitative data from research of criminal and administrative trials in several Russian regions. The research methods include (a) non-participant observation in courts; (b) in-depth interviews with jurists and court interpreters; (c) analysis of media materials and Internet sources. The paper will consider the main characteristics and trends of the field of foreign language interpretation services in the legal sphere in contemporary Russia. It will also analyze how the perceptions of the judicial system by court interpreters impact their behavior in the court proceedings and what tactics they use within the juridical field.

Presents in panel 4D

Attitudes Toward Historical Past in Russia: Does the Internet Matter?

As Anderson (Anderson, 1983) put it, memory of the common past and attitudes towards it are among foundations of national identity. For living generations, images of historical events and figures are symbolic entities. They have a unifying capacity however they may be constructed by memory politics agents and structures including school textbooks, arts, media, etc.

There have been many surveys asking questions about what Russian people tend to associate their country and their people with. Respondents have most often referred to a common history and a common past. Since the 1990s, such an answer has taken the top.

The proposed paper is aimed at understanding whether using digital media has an impact on historical awareness, memory, and public attitudes towards the past in Russia. The data source is a survey on social trust, basic human beliefs, and attitudes conducted by the Zircon Research Group in 2018, Russian representative sample, N=2,400. The survey method was face-to-face interviews: http://doverie.zircon.tilda.ws/fact.

The survey outcomes are compared to other surveys and polls on the same subjects conducted in Russia and other states.

Among other topics, the survey included a set of questions on media use& trust, awareness and attitudes towards certain public figures and historical events from the XX century, all of them Russian people have been learning at schools and universities since the Soviet period.

Those who prefer digital media and trust an information they get there, show little knowledge of important dates, facts, and names from the Russian history of the last 100 years. Those who prefer off-line traditional media and sources of information know historical names, dates and events and willingly give their assessments.

Several regressions were run, with historical awareness as dependent variable, and various independent variables (e.g. sources of information, trust to an information, attitudes to present political leaders, institutional trust, and some political beliefs) were included in models. We controlled for age, gender, education and settlement. It had been assumed, age may be a covariate, and after controlling for covariates, information sources’ explanatory power decreased significantly. After a series of procedures of data analysis, the conclusion was that a relationship between historical awareness and digital media use is mostly coming from age differences. Education explained less variance than age.

The same direction of relationship was observed for attitudes to major events and assessments of prominent public figures of the Russian history such as the last Russian Emperor Nikolay the 2nd, V.Lenin, I.Stalin, Y.Zhukov, Y.Gagarin, M.Gorabchev, B.Yeltsin, and some others.

Most young people aged 18-24 and 25-30 years are not well aware of historical events and dates, openly admitting their knowledge gaps. They show little interest in subjects from the past, being more likely to choose ‘neutral’ evaluations of both prominent historical figures’ activities and meaning of the Russian major events. In that respect, they differ from older generations who still consider historical awareness a social norm and have strong opinions on most actors and events from the past.

In many respects, our findings are close to those obtained in other countries (e.g. Buckingham, 2000; Norris, 2000: Kohut, 2013; Ekstrom, Olsson&Shehata, 2014: Boulianne, 2015). New generations show less political engagements and news consumption, they are less interested in historical information. For them, traditional media and traditional structures of teaching history are not effective enough anymore. The proposed paper is going to describe some possible implications for a memory politics in Russia.

Presents in panel 4G

Configuring the User and the Technology in Automated Telephone Help Service in Russia

The paper examines the social process of introduction of voice technologies, namely automated operator in the state telephone help service. This is an interesting case because, firstly, technology is designed to replace human employees, and secondly, voice technologies are becoming a common way of providing services (voice assistants, help desk services, surveys, advertising, etc.) Both trends are typical for contemporary Russia, which includes digitalization of multiple practices beyond just communication and entertainment, involving significant parts of everyday life such as shopping, healthcare, paying utility bills and fines, education, applying for documents, etc. Moreover, the examined case presents compulsory technology that users do not choose to interact with, which means a wide range of people encounter automated call operator who in other circumstances would not have to.

The main question is how both users and technology are configured in the work of an organization, and how the process of technology development and change affects social experience of a telephone inquiry service user. To answer to this question, a two-part methodology is adopted. To understand how the technology came about, how and why it undergoes changes and is adjusted, we turn to ethnographic approach. To this end, observation materials and interviews with the organization’s employees are analysed. To elucidate users’ experience in form of human-computer interaction during the call, conversation analysis (G. Jefferson, H. Sacks, E. Schegloff) is employed, which allows considering social interaction in details through developing elaborate transcripts of talk (audio recordings of over 100 telephone calls) and analyzing them sequentially. The results show how interaction with the machine forces users to learn new skills in situ and overcome breaches in phone conversations caused by the machine’s limited communication resources. Interaction with an automated operator requires quick adaptation from users and imposes on them asymmetric “responsibility” for the successful course of the conversation. At the same time, the organizational logics of technology configuration and adjustment is very different from this ongoing users’ work. It stems rather from formalized and simplified signs of problems then from actual, situational, and detailed feedback. We argue that in order to understand digitalization in Russia, one needs to study the actual social interaction with machines that people are engaged in, such as phone conversations with automated operator, instead of reducing the process to merely “perception” of technology or accounts about the practices of using technology that surveys produce.

Presents in panel 6F

Presents in panel 2F and 7A

Popular Culture and Re-Inventing the Image of 1990-S in New Media

The memory of the 1990s, and the image of this time are undergoing a transformation in modern Russian culture. The distance of 20-30 years between the 90s and today clearly invites rethinking. We can see that this process is actively going on. I would like to talk about the connections between the memories of the 1990s, how those memories are being re-thought with the help of new media technologies and from a communicative perspective.

For a long time there were several dominant negative metaphors about wild («лихие») 90-s as a period of high level of criminal, un-educated new elites and trash mass culture. There was an unwritten rule that celebrities of 1990s form the agenda for TV and the young audience prefer the internet with its own celebrities, practices, YouTube bloggers and other specific features.

But we see that this trend has been broken with the great success of several video clips of singers from the generation of “old stars” in YouTube (like Philip Kirkorov, Nikolai Baskov, Dima Malikov etc); the Yuri Dud’s Interview Channel, and a real new wave of interest to the period of 1990-s. Why are they so popular through the internet audience? Could we speak about new technical and communication turn in new media culture? On the one hand we can see lots examples of rising interest to the artifacts and nostalgic interest to the rather near past time. Different data bases showing toys, books, clothes of 1990-s, track lists of songs and video of this time. But the new media and Web 2.0 space contribute to this process of rethinking memory and knowledge of 1990-s not only with the help of hashtags and collections of images, names, songs and films. An important part of this process deal with communication when due to popular YouTube channels a new chance to set up the dialog come to young generation Z and those who remember or even has produced important shifts in Russian postsoviet culture. Such shows as Yuri Dud’ Interview give us an important example not only of this cross-generational dialog but the reboot of exact facts, names, events that were important at that time and should be well-known to the actual audience. Through such conversations, inviting people of different generations and life experience to take part, communicative continuity takes shape, which reassembles the image of the era and makes it possible to see that some of the actors of the past are still active today. There is a continuum that lets you look at the past and present more productively.

in addition to nostalgia and personal memories, the phenomenon of postironia is playing a very important role in shaping the new image of 1990s, the experiences of “playing at the 1990s”, the encounter with and understanding of this period by those who did not experience it at the time, or who themselves were only born in the mid-1990s, and have only childhood memories of the period.

Presents in panel 4E

Presents in panel 1E

Presents in panel 5B

Commercializing Wearable Technologies: Comparison of Practices in Russia and Europe

Wearables - or design pieces couples with technology that can be worn on one’s body (Seymour, 2008) – comprise an emerging market niche that has been dominated by electronic corporations (see Muck et al., in press). Wrist-worn devices have become the most common type of wearable so far (Motti and Caine, 2016), but there are other captivating examples, like heating socks, smart boots capable of measuring heartbeat, a T-shirt with changing prints, and swimsuits that track the level of ultraviolet.

Few start-ups working with wearables has managed to commercialize their products (Dunne, 2015), but since many products are innovative and experimental, it is not always clear which market they should be sold on and who the potential user is (see Dehghani et al., 2018). In order to shed light on possible solutions to this problem, we have interviewed 11 experts in Russia and the European Union countries (in particular, the Netherlands and Finland) who have been involved in developments of wearables.

Based on their narratives, we analyze commercialization of wearables in Russia and Europe through the lenses of the E. Shove, M. Pantzar and M. Watson’s (2012) version of practice theory. Therefore, rather than focusing on individual qualities of a wearable or an entrepreneur, we look at a routinized type of behavior called social practice (see Reckwitz, 2002), that is, the practice of commercialization of wearable technologies. According to Shove et al. (2012: 22), a practice consists of three elements – materials, competences and meanings. For a practice to perpetuate, there should be well-established links between these elements, otherwise it either remains a proto-practice or becomes an ex-practice (ibid.: 15).

Drawing on this theoretical framework, we seek to explain the emergence, persistence and dying out of commercialization practice of wearables in chosen countries.
Despite the fact that practice theory mostly focuses on practices and their elements, it emphasizes importance of context that can shape practices (Shove et al., 2012). In this research we define the most important characteristics of the context (for instance, availability of investors, security of intellectual property rights and state support of small-scale technological entrepreneurship) and look at the differences across the chosen countries.
 

This paper is co-authored with Olga Gurova

Presents in panel 6F

“Culture of the Silent Majority”? Access to Justice of the Elderly Population in Digital Age

Latin was the language of the educated population in the Middle Ages. To be literate meant to know Latin. Those not writing Latin were not able to express their ideas in written sources. Most of our information resources nowadays are digital. Views, ideas, emotions and political programs are expressed and reposted through internet. However, digital literacy creates barriers for certain social interactions.

The presentation is exploring the question of access to justice of the elderly population in digital age. It begins with providing statistical data analysis on the use of digital technology by different groups of population in Eurasia. It focuses on digital skills essential for integration into technological society and their temporal and regional dynamics. It then turns to the programs of digitalization and regulation of justice and policy initiatives in Eurasian countries and Russia in particular. It finally reflects upon the principle of equality in access to justice in digital age and the position of the elderly people in the society of technology providing analysis of selected cases.

Presents in panel 4D

Russian Orthodox Church and Digitalization: The Argument of the Orthodox Conservators Against Information Technologies and Electronic Means of Personal Data Control

It is no secret that for more than 20 years Orthodox believers in Russia have expressed serious concern and protests against the implementation of new electronic technologies. The rise of such protests occurred in the late 90's, when many priests began to oppose the accepting value added tax identification numbers (VATIN). Then the Orthodox used almost exclusively religious argumentation, pointing to "666" as the key symbolic meaning of the electronic encoding in VATIN – "Antichrist's seal", "the number of the beast" in accordance with the wide-spread interpretation the Revelation of John the theologian (Apoc, 13:18). This view was clothed in numerous conspiracy theories. In response to the protests, the Church authorities had to give explanations, for example in the Final document of the VII plenary session of the Synodal Theological Commission of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) in 2001, the Statement of the Holy Synod in 2005, the definition of the bishops ' Council 2008, 2011 and 2013. The ROC also addressed with these concern to the Russian government, in particular to the president.

A criticism of Orthodox groups protesting the new digital technologies was evolving during 20 years, while replacing a religious arguments for the secular ones. In particular they started to speak on the danger of "digital dictatorship" or even "electronic concentration camp" with regard to further development of digitalization
Today in Russia there is a new rise of protests by Orthodox believers in connection with the implementation of biometric identification technologies and the legalization of Individual insurance account number (SNILS) as a mandatory single unique digital identity in all respects of the citizen with the authorities and commercial structures.

In contrast to the protests of the late 90s and early 2000s, Orthodox believers, in addition to purely religious conspiracy arguments, appeal to the RF Constitution, respect for human rights, talk about the danger of dictatorship, abuse of information by the government, health and educational institutions, business and the banking system.

The purpose of this paper is to clarify what are the main trends in Russian Orthodoxy of counter-documentation against the digitalization, and what ideas and institutions support these arguments. What objections continue to develop conspiracy ideas, and which master the human rights argument? To what extent is this rejection conditioned by ideological motives, political preferences or social inequality? How does the rhetoric of Orthodox fundamentalists reflect the concerns expressed by secular analysts (Bowles, 2019), (Khalin & Chernova, 2018), (Lanier, 2013), (Richards, 2013)? What is the position of the authorities in relation to new information technologies? How can we talk about the influence of the position of the ROC on the adoption of further steps regarding digitalization by the state? While scrutinizing conspiracy of the Orthodox groups, the authors rely on methods and approaches developed by analysts such as M. Barkun (2003), A.Panchenko (2015), Zh.Kormina (2015).

This paper is co-authored with Boris Knorre

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Presents in panel 1C

Between New Technologies and "New" Society: The Sovietisation of Latvian Cinema During Stalin Time (1945-1953)

Russian Cinematographic Industry, which concentrated in Moscow 90% of its producers, was nationalized in 1919, therefore the State, represented in this field by Narkompros (People's Commissariat for Education), which controlled also literature and arts, became the only "customer" for movies.

Lenin declared that cinema, from the Communist point of view, was the "most important of the arts". This affirmation was considered quite credible since just a few percentages of Russians, in the 1920s, could just read and write. For this reason, cinema was presented as a symbol of modernity which finally arrived in Russia thanks to the new Proletarian Government.

In 1930s when the myth of Stalin, which rose to power after Lenin's death in 1924, cinema played a different role: from a tool of education it became a tool of pure propaganda. Soviet authorities regarded cinema as one of the favourite propaganda weapons, which could bring their message to the people and they intended to use it, more than any other medium of art, for creating the “new socialist man”in the same way as it was used by Benito Mussolini during the Fascist regime, which preferred during cinema over the radio as a tool of propaganda during the Ventennio (Tesi 2009).

Almost at the same time with Molotov-Ribbentrop pact which divided Europe in two sphere of influence, once with Nazi Germany and other part to Soviet Union, Ivan Bolshakov became on 4th June 1939 the chairman of the Soviet Committee. Bolshakov replaced Semyonov Dukelsky, which was on charge just for one year (1938-1939). As a consequence of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, Latvia, as well as Lithuania and Estonia, was absorbed by the Soviet Union for the second time after the brief German interregnum. The Social and cultural life of the Baltic States was strongly affected by Moscow's regime. Cinema was influenced as well and Soviet authorities were well aware of cinema's propaganda potential in the Baltic States. Almost in parallel, due to Andrei Zhdanov, leader of the cultural movement of the Socialist Realism, was launched a sharp rebuke against the national culture in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, dictating in this way the canons of the new cultural trend.

The following research will focus the attention on the Latvian cinematographic sphere, stressing the accent on the Stalin Era (1945-1953) and touching in the same time not only the role of propaganda in the cinema, which played a crucial role in the Soviet society but also the new technologies. the economic aspect and the figures on charge and the movie and documentary production make during the mentioned period.

Presents in panel 4E

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Cyber-Psychologist – the Possibility or the Nightmare?

The digitalization of almost all spheres of human life points on the nature and specific of interpersonal communication and the ethics of relationships in the clinical psychology. Online-counselling is the common way of professional psychological communication in the contemporary world. But despite the ordinary of such type of psychological help there are still a lot of questions among it. To find out the specific of potential clients’ attitudes toward online psychological counseling we’ve polled respondents with questions concerning the popularity of digital psychological counseling among and the specific of psychological problems people prefer to solve digitally. Besides the discussion of the results of the questionnaire in this paper it will be discussed what is the future of the clinical psychology within the perspective of digitalization of the environment and the possibility of the nonhuman – human psychological counselling. The main ethical dilemma at this point that will be discussed is the question about the creating of the digital psychologist on the basement of the specific of client’s inquiry and the mechanism of verbal clients’ communicative strategies and the correlation of them with the psychologists’ strategies. If such cyber-psychologist will be created one day will the client recognize it? Will such counselling still be psychological or this term will be not appropriate to such communication? This ethical dilemma appeals to the nature of interhuman relations, to the question of trust and professional compliance. Also it is a question about the algorithms and prognoses of human behavior and reactions in different crises situation and the possibility of nonhuman identification and response to these behavioral and emotional patterns.

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Presents in panel 3A