June 04, 2013
Private Lives, Intimate Readings

This paper’s main goal is to show that Soviet notions of privacy – which were developed in crowded Soviet communal appartments, also known as the kommunalki – can still be found in contemporary Russian (micro-)blogs. This finding does not come as a surprise. Russian Internet (Runet) culture is, to a certain extent, quite different from its ‘Western’ counterparts, which may be explained in part by historical developments. The Soviet regime looked upon communication technologies as being potentially dangerous and thus, neglected and even hindered their development (Schmidt 2011: 55). The Internet got available to a larger public audience only after the collapse of the Soviet union in 1989. Because of this delay, Runet culture until today is quite unique. For example, Russian blog portals (livejournal.com), social networks (odnoklassniki.ru, vkontakte.ru) and search engines (yandex.ru) are widely unknown in the ‘West’, but dominate the Russian market..  Of course not all of Runet’s peculiarities can be attributed to technical history only. I want to argue that the past Soviet experiences of Russian bloggers have influence, too: They shape the perception of privacy and publicity. This impact of the Soviet past can be felt in many examples of Russian online life writing. By means of examining the blogs of best-selling fantasy author Sergei Luk’ianenko (doctor-livsy.livejournal.com, dr-piliulkin.livejournal.com) and the Twitter profile of Runet poet Linor Goralik (twitter.com/snorapp), I strive to show that both writers and readers of on-line Russian life writing texts still are spellbound by Soviet privacy conceptions. This factor thus should not be neglected in studies of Russian life writing.





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