Author Archives: Cat

Highlights from the Royal Society’s archive

The Royal Society has recently made available 60,000 historical scientific papers from the past 350 years, sorted by date to 1887 here and thereafter divided into A (mathematics, physics, engineering) and B (biological and life sciences). If those pages are a little daunting, you can digest it all as a historical timeline here. Unfortunately I don’t have about five consecutive years to sit and read everything and the STEM papers definitely sail about six feet over my head, but I’ve spent a few hours reading through the scans of some of the older contributions. There’s a gruesome fascination in reading about experiments from the 1600s: descriptions of deformed animals, accounts of experimental blood transfusions in sheep and a rather useful paragraph on how to kill a rattlesnake.

Anyway, grotesque science aside I found some real treasures in the archives, and there are probably dozens more I skimmed over. Here are the highlights of my little adventure into historical science:

Dr. Harvey, “An Extract of the Anatomical Account, Written and Left by the Famous Dr. Harvey, Concerning Thomas Parre, Who Died in London at the Age of 152 Years and 9 Moneths“, 1668.

An Extract of a Letter from a Learned French Gentleman, Concerning a Way of Making Sea-Water Sweet“, 1670.

Rob. Gourdon, “A Receipt to Cure Mad Dogs, or Men or Beasts Bitten by Mad Dogs“, 1686.

Of the Posture-Master“, 1698.

J. Breintal, “A Letter from Mr. J. Breintal to Mr. Peter Collinson, F. R. S. Containing an Account of What He Felt after Being Bit by a Rattle-Snake“, 1746.

Peter Camper, “Account of the Organs of Speech of the Orang Outang“, 1779.

Also in the archives are Michael Faraday’s “Experimental Researches in Electricity” (which start in 1832 and are published in almost every edition until around 1839) and early work by  Charles Darwin.

See anything else interesting? Tell me in the comments!

Issue 6 of Digital Icons: transmediality, new digital phenomena in Russia

The new issue of Digital Icons is up, with a focus on transmediality and new digital phenomena in the Russian-speaking sphere. If you’re not familiar with Digital Icons, it’s a twice-yearly online journal dedicated to new media in Russia, Eurasia and Central Europe. All of the articles are available online in a combination of English, German and Russian.

They’re also launching a new project, Digital Memoirs. The latter promises a “collaborative historical narrative that would define use of digital media, including digital gadgets, digital forms of communication and digital practices, in a post-communist, post-totalitarian space”.

I’ve yet to read the articles in depth but two look particularly promising: Tine Roesen’s piece on the elite social network Snob.ru and Ellen Rutten’s exploration of the culture and news portal Openspace.ru.

UNICEF report on the RuNet Generation

Here’s a useful resource: a UNICEF study of internet use amongst young Russians. The authors present a broad review of available statistics and studies surrounding useage statistics, popular sites, technologies, access and identified risks. I’m pleased to note that they prioritise local expertise, particularly as it’s been my experience that by the time Russian sources are published in English they’re already months and years out of date.

Their findings in brief:

  • The number of Internet users grew from two million in 2000 to 46.5 million by the end of 2010
  • The Russian digital landscape is dominated by Russian-bred sites like Yandex, VKontakte and mail.ru
  • Meeting strangers is the most widespread risk encountered by Russian adolescents and young people. Forty per cent of Russians aged 9-16 reported meeting someone from the online world in real life
  • Significant risks discovered over the course of the study also include adult content, malicious software and cyberbullying

Unfortunately there’s not much about online gaming, just a line pointing out the “dearth of research concerning the prevalence and frequency of online gaming among Russian adolescents and young people” and some sparse statistics from this report which frankly I would like to see verified elsewhere:

  •  75 per cent of Internet users under 18 years of age who play online games play massively multi-player online games (MMOG).
  • On average, they play these games 6 days per week, 7 hours per day.
  • In addition, 25 per cent of this sample play games on social networking sites.
  • On average, games on social networking sites are played 5 days per week, 4 hours per day.

Sections on available technology, the digital divide, Twitter, blogging and e-commerce are somewhat more comprehensive, although that’s only to be expected. I’ve found that there’s a lot of interest in themes of economic development and political resistance when it comes to RuNet so resources abound.

Their final conclusion – that young people need to be educated about the risks of internet use – is a little anaemic. Given the apparent prevalence of internet use by young Russians, I would be very surprised if the conclusions drawn by the UNICEF team aren’t already well understood by the internet users themselves; a perfect example of shutting the stable door behind the horse, I’m guessing. Nevertheless, it’s a solid report and a good introduction to the Russian internet sphere. It’s available in full here.

Survey of Russian MMORPG players

A few months ago I came across a survey of the Russian-speaking MMORPG community by Yuri Bryzgalov. Both the results and the questions he was asking have been hugely productive for my thesis research and will supplement the results of my own survey work. The original documents are, of course, in Russian, but the results are way too good to keep to myself. There’s a real dearth of material about so many gaming cultures outside of the English-speaking world, and even as a non-native Russian speaker it can be incredibly difficult to find statistics about gamers in Russia and Eastern Europe. With that in mind, I recently emailed Yuri to ask his permission to translate his survey and responses into English and post them here. I’ve tried to be as faithful as possible to the original material, both in translation and in formatting. My thanks to Yuri for allowing me to make his valuable research available to English-speaking researchers.

You can download the original Russian document here [pdf].

My translation is available here [pdf].

If you are a Russian speaker who’d like to see the raw data, it’s available online here.

I have a few thoughts about the results that I’ll save for a later post. In the meantime, read, discuss, enjoy!