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SPP 413

Author: Richard Rose
Description: By the conventional measure of Internet use, the percentage of the population on line, Russia appears unimportant by comparison with its Nordic neighbours, for only one-sixth of Russian adults are Internet users. Yet in terms of the total number of Internet users, Russia's 18 million adults on line are more numerous than the combined population of these four Nordic countries. To understand how Russia could become the country with the most Internet users in a wider Europe, this paper sets out a proximity model for Internet use that is then applied to New Russia Barometer surveys to show the stages of diffusion of Internet awareness, from recognition of the term, to knowing people on line to being a user oneself. It documents how Internet use is taking off, and documents differences between early and later adopters, a term more appropriate to diffusion than a static label such as digital divide. The spread of the Internet in Russia will increase its domestic resources in Russian; the limited knowledge of foreign languages, including English, will tend to make the Internet an "introverted" medium for Russians to communicate with each other, as it is for Americans, rather than a window on the world.

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CSPP School of Government & Public Policy U. of Strathclyde Glasgow G1 1XQ Scotland