Informatization

   / Informatizatsiia
   The Russian word informatizatsiia literally means “making use of information”; however, the term is used to refer to the use of information technologies in governmental, political, social, and cultural institutions. In its broader sense, the term and its derivatives denote the study, design, development, implementation, and support of computer-based information systems, and in its common use it is synonymous with the term “information technology” (IT). However, in Russia, the term has a political connotation that goes back to the perestroika period. As part of the modernization agenda, Mikhail Gorbachev attempted to create an information industry in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). In principle, informatizatsiia was meant to propel the Soviet economy to the forefront of world development by introducing new information technologies that would enhance the performance of the industrial sector, as well as to improve management and accountability of enterprise. On another level, the politics of informatizatsiia acknowledged that the USSR was no longer fit to compete on the global level because its overreliance on heavy industry and extensive exploitation of resources characteristic of the Stalin era had left the country behind its peers in the West (including Japan).
   As part of informatizatsiia, the Soviet Union began to develop its own computer systems, including both hardware and software sectors. However, they were hardly competitive, and did not serve the purpose of advancing the country’s economic capacity. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the economic collapse of the 1990s, the task of improving the information infrastructure of Russia was handed over to private enterprises, namely, banks and financial companies, which invested heavily in IT. Foreign companies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), for example, the Soros Foundation, also played an important role in developing the new infrastructure by creating computer and Internet centers in large urban areas. The move to new computer systems was possible because of the availability of cheap hardware from China and because of the common practice of pirating software and other forms of intellectual property.
   The latest push to create a new information industry came under Vladimir Putin when the federal and local governments developed their own information systems and funded the proliferation of information technologies in the education system, postal service, and cultural institutions. Since 2000, the shift in the use of information technologies has been remarkable. At the moment, points of access to the Internet may be found in even the remotest parts of the country. Today, citizens of the Russian Federation are increasingly accustomed to using information technologies in their daily practices, including online commerce, banking, and personal communication.
   See also Runet.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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