Although the Future of Russian team had to miss some delegates at the AAASS 2009 conference, it was a more than fruitful event for the project, I would say. Next to panel sessions, the project group activities included a meet-and-greet with scholars from Columbia University’s New Modes of Communication project. They pointed our attention to their upcoming conference, which some of us – or other readers of this blog – may want to visit. The Etiology and Ecology of Post-Soviet Communication is hosted in May 2010 by Columbia’s Harriman Institute. The organizers – Eugene Gorny, Florian Toepfl, Catharine Nepomnyashchy, Alan Timberlake, and Guobin Yang – welcome panels on:

“the emergence and evolution of social networks; patterns of interlinking; the phenomenon of social contagion in online communications; political clustering in the blogosphere and beyond; public versus private identities; doublethink, cynicism, coded language; the emergence of opinion leaders in the blogosphere; freedom of the press on the internet; forms and degrees of censorship, online activism/social movements on the internet; dissenters and political activism; democracy to autocracy in the Russian internet.”

One-page abstracts can be sent to by February 1, 2010. For those who can’t make it: the conference culminates a one-year project which has its own wiki site. Worth a visit, not only for the contents proper, but also as a sample of a new type of scholarly platform — one which utilizes cutting-edge digital research tools to facilitate, among other online services, internal communication and a collective virtual biography. Next year, the site may include podcasts of the May conference presentations – or so Eugene Gorny and Florian Toepfl suggested during our meeting.