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Publisher's Summary

Between 1959 and 1989, Soviet scientists and officials made numerous attempts to network their nation - to construct a nationwide computer network. None of these attempts succeeded, and the enterprise had been abandoned by the time the Soviet Union fell apart. Meanwhile, ARPANET, the American precursor to the Internet, went online in 1969. Why did the Soviet network, with top-level scientists and patriotic incentives, fail while the American network succeeded? In How Not to Network a Nation, Benjamin Peters reverses the usual Cold War dualities and argues that the American ARPANET took shape thanks to well-managed state subsidies and collaborative research environments, and the Soviet network projects stumbled because of unregulated competition among self-interested institutions, bureaucrats, and others. The capitalists behaved like socialists, while the socialists behaved like capitalists.

After examining the midcentury rise of cybernetics, the science of self-governing systems, and the emergence in the Soviet Union of economic cybernetics, Peters complicates this uneasy role reversal while chronicling the various Soviet attempts to build a "unified information network." Drawing on previously unknown archival and historical materials, he focuses on the final, and most ambitious of these projects, the All-State Automated System of Management (OGAS), and its principal promoter, Viktor M. Glushkov. Peters describes the rise and fall of OGAS - its theoretical and practical reach, its vision of a national economy managed by network, the bureaucratic obstacles it encountered, and the institutional stalemate that killed it. Finally, he considers the implications of the Soviet experience for today's networked world.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2016 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (P)2016 Gildan Media LLC

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  • Ronald
  • Oak PArk, IL, United States
  • 09-07-16

Good Subject, too repetitive

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

No, the exposition was circular, with many points repeated several times. It was more of a Sociology paper than a book designed to engage the reader.

Was How Not to Network a Nation worth the listening time?

Barely

Any additional comments?

The performer has a good voice, but the performance was riddled with mispronuncations.

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  • BookFan
  • 09-17-16

In depth look at soviet tech and politics

This book looks at the technology but also the politics that held the technology back from being fully realised , as with a lot of soviet stories I've heard they had the best and brightest but they were held back by a corrupt political system .
I would recommend this book to other tech enthusiasts and IT guys who want to look at the options for networks they may not have considered in comparison to our internet of today.