All right, let’s make it out last broadcast about the Chelyabinsk event. According to a press release issued by Prophet media lab, Russian web goers collectively made 477,000 posts regarding the meteorite and the fallout. Apparently that’s a record for Russia. Remember I mentioned how Twitter posts its annual stats with thousands of tweets per second? Well, I think we might already have a winner early this year. Prophet has used the patented technology of Crimson Hexagon ForSight, which I’ve already mentioned a while back. For instance, it was used last spring to gauge the blogosphere’s reaction to Facebook acquiring Instagram. Back then their research looked at 200,000 tweets that mentioned the deal and according to their algorithm that can gauge emotional load of posts, only 12% of processed tweets registered any sort of approval. 18% of users were simply in shock without indicating whether it's "good shock" or "bad shock". Another 18% simply "passed along the news" and 16% of tweets were qualified as "general neutral"; the rest, 35% were less than happy, mostly at Facebook and only 6% expressed general disappointment without placing the blame on Facebook or anyone else in particular. So, as you can see, this is a pretty interesting piece of software. And turns out that it has since been adapted for Runet, with the Russian Foundation for the Development of the Civil Society holding its license – I guess they decided to lend their service for such a unique event, given that they mostly specialize in political and social research. Anyhow, Crimson Hexagon was trained on blogs, Facebook and Twitter; no mention of VK, but I do hope they included that as well. Only posts made on February 15th were analyzed – as you can see, that’s more than enough. According to the press-release, few events have managed to break the 100,000 posts per day threshold – here it was almost half a million. It should be noted, that the research does not discern between “Russia” and “Runet”, so I guess our neighbors from CIS states have chipped in here. English was the second most popular language of discussion for this event – 443 thousand posts; United States contributed 112,000 messages. Japan, actually, had a whopping 330,000 posts per day, coming in second worldwide. I wonder why – perhaps they were expecting a Godzilla-like monster to rampage through Chelyabinsk? I’m sorry, lame joke, lame joke. USA comes in third, followed by Spain and the UK with 40 and 34 thousand messages respectively. And then the report gets interesting. Well, “geek interesting”, I guess. As I’ve mentioned, the software package is capable of analyzing emotional value of posts, and that’s what it id. The reaction was quite… varied. One of the most popular types was worry over citizens of Chelyabinsk, dealing with the destructive unknown. Another was blatant fear – and it wasn’t coming just from locals, either. People realized how unprotected they are from the universe. In fact, experts compared Russian and English language blogospheres and came to the conclusion that Russians are, well, more cheerful, I guess. 36% of Russian messages expressed that bloggers were worried or scared, compared to 37% of posts made in English. Only 19% of posts in Runet were of neutral nature – English webgoers were quite more careless – 32% were indifferent and thought there was nothing to worry about. And the rest? The rest were humorous messages – 45% of Russian meteor-related posts and 31% of English. Most of international humorous posts dealt with pop culture references, or, as they say, memes; a few were specific jokes about Russia (aka the land of the dashcams). Surprisingly, about a quarter of Russian jokes were about politics – how did that managed to get dragged into meteor events? Well, here’s a sample: “After the Chelyabinsk event State Duma deputies are drawing up a bill to prohibit meteor showers over Russia” – edgy, huh? Most Russians produced general pop culture jokes and there was a little, yet distinct cluster of the “rugged Chelyabinsk men”. Examples? “Chelyabinsk men are so tough, they literally reach for the sky and give their women stars.” “Chleylabinsk men are so tough they bring down icicles by meteorites” and so on and so forth. So that’s pretty much it – more fun, less fear, but social buzz all around.
Oh, and there’s a follow-up on that online sale of meteorite fragments – some entrepreneurs realized they have better chances of unloading their space rocks (or fakes) if they make their offers available to the whole world, not just Russia. So, currently there’s a number of listings selling supposedly remnants of the Chelyabinsk meteorite – and there’s a lot of bids on those. Meanwhile, there has been a clarification of the legal status of meteorite sale. First of all, it’s not really a meteorite, yet – yes, even astronomers have to deal with red tape. Second, in order to legally pick up meteorite shards, people need a license. Second, these items are considered to be cultural values and need to be registered accordingly before being sold. And, of course, the amount of stones sold gives reason to believe that at least some of them don’t really come from the meteorite – that’s plain old fraud. So, if you still want to risk it – go ahead, ebay is waiting for you.
Alright, how about we take a look at the situation with blacklists and such? White-lists, basically a North Korean version of the internet, where only ‘trusted sites’ can be accessed, seems to be on the back-burner, for now. It was supposed to launch in the Kostroma region two weeks ago, but there have been no news on something like that. Clarifications – yes. The League promised it would be an opt-in sort of deal – users will have to sign up to have their browsing limited – you know, basically to install a “parent filer” on the internet. Well, turns out, despite back-tracking and promising it will be optional, a lot of people and companies did not appreciate the idea. For example, remember the Russian Safer Internet Forum, held earlier in February? As I’ve mentioned, it had underwhelming participation of major internet-oriented companies; mostly it consisted of public officials congratulating each other on a job well done – I may over-exaggerating here. But, the fact is that for example Google, despite previous plans, decided to skip the conference. Turns out that corporation snubbed the event due to the aforementioned recent proposal by Russia’s League for Internet Safety – white lists. Google was supposed to take the floor in one of the conference sections, but changed mind right before the conference – according to a spokesman, due to solidarity with other members of Russia’s Association for Electronic Communications, who did not even sign up for the forum. Google’s GR Director Marina Junich still visited the event, and shared her dissatisfaction, disdain, even, through Twitter. Another part of the Association decided to show up exactly because of the ‘white list’ initiative – they believe that the silent treatment is ineffective, as been proven with the black list law – instead, it’s important to use such opportunities to voice opinion of representatives of the internet industry. Newspaper Izvestia also interviewed Denis Davydov, the League’s executive director, who shared his thoughts on all the negativity surrounding his organization. Turns out that he is actually happy with the way the situation played out. Quote “American IT business has disproportionally strong influence on Russian events. The nature of this influence is strange. I hope it will weaken as Russian IT business develops.” Unquote. Well, that’s… an interesting point of view, I guess. Meanwhile, YouTube, Google’s subsidiary is going to court along with Rospotrebnadzor - The Federal Service for Control in the Sphere of Protection Consumers’ Rights and Well-Being of Humans. What’s the deal with that? Well, this organization is one of the three responsible for Russian blacklists; once contacted by Roskomnadzor, the IT watchdog, it analyzes a given web page to see whether its contents encourage suicide. For example, the organization ruled that the amusing viral video “Dumb Ways to Die”, a PSA warning of the dangers trains pose to travelers, is suicide encouragement. Yup, if a user with Russian IP address tries to open the YouTube clip they will be greeted with “not available in your country due to governmental restrictions” message. But that’s not why YouTube is going into court. Yet another video, an instruction on creating scary Halloween make-up, was ruled, again, as suicide advocacy. Yeah, apparently making yourself look like you’re dead is the same as making you kill yourself. I’m really questioning qualifications of people making these calls after such incidents. In any case, while YouTube had to comply – Google has previously announced that it would follow the procedure as the law requires – it’s now firing back, going to court trying to prove that the aforementioned video clip has nothing to do with suicides. The law on blacklists, indeed, allows such actions, but I think this is the first time someone actually tries to revert a decision once it went that far.