You are probably correct on all counts, but it hardly matters. Many people couldn't care less which one of the aspiring businessmen will be investing in LJ in Russia, and which one of the Runet celebrities will act as a figurehead. What they are afraid of most is being hosted in Russia, period. Because (what they think is, whether it is true or not) is that once FSB asks for those private posts - the company that hosts them in Russia will have two alternatives: either yield them voluntarily, or get beaten up - and then yield them voluntarily. And as for "why would FSB go for their silly little journals" - well, maybe it won't, but maybe it will. Russia is not the only place in the world, where authorities are doing their best to control people's access to the Internet (China and the Google controversy spring to mind).
And if you want to speed up not just the static content, but the dynamic one as well, you will have to do some sort of hosting in Russia, right? Well, that's what they're afraid of. Yep, myself included.
Another thing is the way in which SUP handled the initial surge in people's interest (including negative reactions, which, truth must be told, abounded). It was tasteless and patronizing, not to mention the obscene remarks directed at the people who objected the idea.
But hey, I'm sure you know all this already.
2006-11-01 10:52 pm (UTC)
I said "do the math", but you didn't, so I'll do it for you... :-)
My friends page requires 37 HTTP requests to build. If those are 260 milliseconds each, that 9.62 seconds. Now, divide that in two, since browsers tend to do about two things in parallel.... so 4.81 seconds if it's hosted entirely in the US.
But only the 1st request of those 37 had any private data.... so what if we make the 36 requests that follow (js, css, userpics) in Moscow, but keep the 1st private one in the US?
Then it's 260 ms + (36 * 30ms / 2) = 0.8 seconds.
See how much better that gets?
It's now 0.8 seconds instead of 4.8 seconds. Putting that extra one HTML page is Moscow only helps maybe 130 milliseconds... Or a 2% improvement over the original speed. Politically, not worth it. The big savings were from putting all those tiny little files in Moscow, which are public anyway.
And yes, I know SUP didn't handle things perfectly. I guess their attitude towards customers wasn't unlike other Russian companies, from what I hear from others. The refreshing thing is they seem to be learning, and that's what important.... everybody makes mistakes, but not everybody learns from them.
2006-11-01 10:53 pm (UTC)
... how does he [Mamut] make money?
Uh, bribes, payoffs, kickbacks, and other stuff as an 'exchange' for 'favors' for his political allies.
2006-11-01 10:58 pm (UTC)
omg i'm sold
Great, except he didn't stop blogging... he'd just have moved it to Blogger or Vox or whatever.
So it was all a waste of time/money, and I think the politicians realize this and would be reluctant to waste their money paying him off to do something ineffectual.
2006-11-01 11:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Ok, lets do the math (russian way)
Ads served by russian company means that ads will be more annoying.
I'll have to confirm this is true, but I imagine we're not giving SUP the right in the contracts to change SixApart's ad guidelines. That is, no sound/video playing by default, no pop-ups, etc. They'll just be ads for Russian things.
Payment processing by russian company means that lj ids can be linked to real people in bulk.
Then don't pay. Or pay using PayPal or some US method. No options are being REMOVED here... only new options for Russian users.
Local abuse team, used as a weapon.
SUP as a company, as well as SUP's abuse team, will NOT have access to suspend users at will. They'll still have to abide by the US LiveJournal's rules, and go through LJ-US-controlled tools/review/etc to do any suspends. More than anything, they'll just be assisting the US abuse team with translation.
A more personal question, if I may (and hey, you can always leave it screened! :)). Judging by the stories and the photos people posted of your visit to Moscow, you had quite a busy time: goats, parties, clubs (some 20 of those, according to Nossik), the works. Was it to your liking - or would you have preferred a more relaxed trip, maybe with a bit less of the night life and a bit more of Moscow to see?
2006-11-01 11:34 pm (UTC)
I think 20 clubs is an exaggeration. :)
It was definitely busy, but it was good. Next time I'd do more of Moscow, less press interviews, and the same amount of nightlife. :)
2006-11-01 11:30 pm (UTC)
EU seems to make sense, but Russia? Only if you don't look more than one deal ahead.
Latency is a very valid technical argument but Poland and other former Soviet-dominated states are very close to Russia in latency, even closer to other states than Russian host would be. And the EU hosting location gets EU data protection laws so all benefit from that protection, EU, other former Soviet and Russian. That would probably make it fine to host slaves of the US-based user clusters and a memcached pool including private data there to get almost the full benefit of a European host location, limited only by not having writeable user clusters there.
A trusted location in the EU would make hosting user clusters for local users viable, I think. At which point the technical benefit is close to 100%, since writes are local as well. Russia pretty much sucks for this because it just isn't trustworthy enough to serve the whole of Europe with local user clusters. Has to be in the EU for that to work. I don't see any reason to want multiple user cluster sets in different parts of Europe, but that seems to be what's required to get write benefit if there are some in Russia. And that limits the potential for user clusters to Russia only (unless you're crazy enough to believe that the EU population would go for Russian hosting - an you'd have to be _way_ crazy to believe that!).
So it seems short-sighted to put servers in Russia if that's planned. It's very clear that it doesn't really work well beyond this one deal and that there are more deals to be made in the rest of the continent.
Amsterdam might be a better connected spot if helping the whole of Europe is desired; it works well for Wikipedia, but it's a bit far from Russia. Last time I looked it was closer in latency to the middle east and Africa than Russia, so that region could benefit.
100% agreement on the business motives for SUP. Makes perfect sense for them to want to do it.
But once SUP gets access, it gets to do what AT&T did and what the UK government requires UK providers to do, just because it's in Russia and has to follow Russian law. Data collection and use by state agencies happens, just because that's how the world works; no conspiracy theories required. Just is.
That's not a good thing to those in the EU and about to be in the EU who happen to use the Cyrillic character set because they only recently escaped Russian domination. What about the Russians who went with LJ because it wasn't Russian? What about the non-Russians who went with it because it wasn't Russian and immediately are insulted by even being asked to have Russians hosting things when they had to struggle to get out of Russian domination? Not the most politically savvy of moves. :)
An EU server farm also seems to make sense for the rest of the Six Apart production systems that can handle the split.
2006-11-01 11:38 pm (UTC)
Re: EU seems to make sense, but Russia? Only if you don't look more than one deal ahead.
Moscow's connectivity to the EU isn't as great as you might think. Even Google has been bitching lately that they can't get decent connectivity in Russia.
So userpics/js/css in Moscow definitely makes sense.
That said, putting private data caches of user data in the EU, and not in Moscow, hasn't escaped our imagination. I'll leave it at that.
(I think a lot of people don't realize we're probably more paranoid than they are.... we just have more information about the details, which is keeping us calmer.)
2006-11-01 11:50 pm (UTC)
Fire SUP, do tender fo r.ru
A major question is preserving the Russian LJ, ЖЖ. While franchising with ethnic subcommunities certainly makes sense, not every candidate company can become a good franchisee, and specifically not the first which walked in off the street and the only one which hatched its plans in secret and does business by partying and showing off an expensive penthouse office.
I'd personally fire any such aspiring businessmen if they start like SUP started -- renting the most expensive penthouse office to post pictures from it. Do they post improved latency graphs? Plans to self-govern and gather and collect feedback? No, they post views of Moscow traffic from their windows.
BTW, the goat is nowhere to be found. This is typical of irresponsible people they are -- got a goat for fun, put it though pain, and discarded it. Is it eaten by wolves in the zoo? :) Did anybody think an hour in advance of what'll happen to the poor goat? If they can't take care of a single goat, can they take care of thousands of users? :)
In Russia, this is called the "avos" (~whatever/perhaps) mentality. Thus any innuendo by anti-Semites is false -- SUP operates in a wholly Russian avos way, nobody cares or knows what'll happen tomorrow. Apres Moi, Le Deluge.
Perhaps a tender is a better way to do it. These people are just self-appointed braggarts, and have caused tremendous annoyance and fractures in ЖЖ. In the US, we'd cut the losses at this point, rethink the strategy, and establish a process to hire better people in a way satisfactory to the constituents.
2006-11-02 12:04 am (UTC)
Re: Fire SUP, do tender fo r.ru
If they can't take care of a single goat, can they take care of thousands of users? :)
What are you talking about? It wasn't SUP that brought the goat to the party.
2006-11-01 11:57 pm (UTC)
Welcome to Russia!
the author of this article, Evgeny Morozov is well-known to be a a political activist. And as far as I understand from his profile (just search the internet), he is a member of a different party than Mamuth.
It is pretty funny to see how people from Russia try to use Western media for their fights.
As a Russian user I do not see anything besides commercial interests in LJ + SUP deal. While some other people, see "KGB buys internet", "The Jew tries to control Russians" and all the stupid stuff paranoid mind can invent.
2006-11-02 12:16 am (UTC)
Focus on Tasks at Hand
This should not be about politics, this is about freedom of speech and the role of the blogs. Not every anti-SUP sentiment is political -- in fact, the majority of it is based on three concerns:
-- freedom of speech/fairness of the Abuse Team
-- privacy of the participants
-- meritocracy/Open Source spirit and fair self-governance
This is what we all should focus on.
all hail LJ and SUP, don't panic! Nosik said truth about little cwowd of people, who're crazy on nazism and nationalism, and they don't love Kremlin
as you can see, almost noone reads main part of these freaks, and, as you understand, Kremlin and KGB do not worry about cheerless shit in their journals
makes sense. cept for SUP. what the fuck is SUP? :oP
2006-11-02 12:29 am (UTC)
BTW, I worked with a guy who helped NATO with the 'net. He told me the best place to put the hub was in the US next to Mae East! There, all the transatlantic cables come into the US, and it's faster than criss-crossing Europe along their crappy little cables. :)
There're a few places in .ru with direct uplinks, so this can be solved in different ways. Definitely not from a penthouse in Moscow, though. :)
2006-11-02 01:52 am (UTC)
Re: On Latency
They're not hosting LiveJournal from their "penthouse" .... that's crazy. They're on a crappy microwave radio link there. That's not where you host a datacenter.
2006-11-02 12:37 am (UTC)
As I told my friend who was down because of the negative press regarding his recently-launched project: "Don't feel bad. Being around LiveJournal for so long has made me understand that no matter what you do, everyone will hate you for it -- even if what you choose is inaction."
Really, you can replace LiveJournal with X.
Don't feel bad. Being around X for so long has made me understand that no matter what you do, everyone will hate you for it -- even if what you choose is inaction
Because that holds true for any "visible" company. Banks, Microsoft, Red Hat, Google, Newspapers. There's always a vocal group willing to ding you. However, in LJ's case, almost 100% of your customers are vocal folks, vs the .5% that you get everywhere else.
All would be good if Nossik did not speak about cyrillic users and "has care" only about Russians. Two thirds of scandal in fact about it.
Brad, numbers maybe make sense for russian users - that is, the users who are physically in Russia. But SUP talks about Cyrillic users, including America, Israel, Germany and even silly old me in the UK. What good reason can you give for transferring these people to SUP?
I join this question. Brad please kindly answer.
Thanks in advance.
2006-11-02 01:07 am (UTC)
OK I don't care who will probably be banned from LJ for their political views - but!
My only question is WHEN will all this stuff by SUP be available? I'm especially concerned about payments. I really want a paid account. When will I be able to buy it and how much will it cost? Will the price be the same, or lower/higher? Remember the Russians' (not Muscovites', which is almost another nation) average income is much lower than in US.
I think I can afford $10/yr without hesitation, $15 - very probably, but $25 is already too much...
2006-11-02 01:39 am (UTC)
Damned if you do and damned if you do something else...
This is actually kind of fascinating.
I wonder if the same concerns will be echoed when (if??) CALEA
and ad hoc methods
are gradually brought to the top of conversation within the US news ecosystem, tin foil hat legions, and Joe Users paying for their Internet services.
Thanks for trying :-)
From where I've been sitting for the last 15 years (a very nice Philly suburb), this does not look good on two counts.
- I don't like being singled out based on the language I choose to use in my blog. I've been a US citizen for about 10 years, and that's the only way I'd like to be classified, thank you very much. I'm here by choice, not because I've been born here. This choice ought to be respected.
- I want to define my relationship with Mother Russia on my own terms (which basically are "fsck off"). Making my name available to a Russian company based on cyrillic in my lj will make me very unhappy indeed. Would you let a Havana-based company handle lj accounts of Florida Cubans?
I realise these aren't exactly rational reasons, but then we humans aren't exactly rational.
What you do in Russia isn't really any of my business. I'm pretty sure this whole thing will fail miserably, but your MBAs are welcome to find that out the proper - hard - way. I'm primarily concerned about US residents of xUSSR origin like myself.
As a way to move on - could you clarify the criteria for marking up an lj user for that exciting SUP offer? Or even simpler than that - how do I make sure I have absolutely positively definitely nothing to do with this? You know, no opt-out, no opt-in, just nothing.
2006-11-02 01:56 am (UTC)
Re: On Latency
I understand your point of view 100%, and it's my point of view too.
Let me get back to you with a good answer, and one that I'm allowed to give.
this entry makes much more sense than all the rest of the stuff that i've read.
your point-by-point procedure is easier for me to understand and most likely easier for many others to be able to understand.
this marketing-speak where they're trying to be all chummy and conversational and stuff makes it all bloated with extra garbage and makes the message hard to find.
the point-by-point procedure limits that extra weight.
2006-11-02 02:14 am (UTC)
Speaking from a point of view that is not too obvious, I must say that a problem for most immigrants to Europe and US, like me, was that we have a genetical predisposition to distrust anything that has to do with Russia as a state. Once this SUP deal was announced, people immediately started assuming the worst, and Nosik happened to have been extremely careless in choosing his wording. Therefore, most of my friends were scraming in awe, imagining that, since they are using Cyrillic, the SUP thing will automatically spread the red hand and meddle into their blogging. People wanted to keep everything the way it is, hence the outcry. Many users of that type considered switching from Livejournal to some other blogging system, some of them did, most oа them though just created a backup - they are now waiting to see how it goes.
Your previous explanations helped a lot, many people translated them instantly into Russian and calmed folks down. Good luck, anyway. As long as you trust your common sense rather than your Russian colleagues, we are ok.
Just a couple of points:
"I believe Mamut at the end of the day wants to make money, not shut down blogging as a favor to the Kremlin"
Khodorkovsky wanted to make money and not do favors to Kremlin. And where is he now? And didn't it teach a lesson to any oligarch who hadn't learned already?
"SixApart recognizes how popular LJ is in Russia, but we can't make any money from it, nor can we make it much better."
Sure you can! How's this for a money-making scheme: "Send us $15 to mark your account as "non-Cyrillic""? I bet a lot of people would pay. I would.
"The service is still so slow"
It's fine. Really. We like it. We like you. We like you just the way you are.
"We get happier users"
Do you still believe that after all you've heard on the subject?
you seem to have ignored the questions signed by 144 Russian users in an open letter to you.http://dm-krylov.livejournal.com/774285.html
Your current post on the matter,http://brad.livejournal.com/2261770.html
does not address the serious issues that are of concern to many of us.
We would like to inform you that we are sending this letter to a number of US and Russian publications monitoring internet, along with an indication of your unwilliness to communicate with us.
2006-11-02 04:56 am (UTC)
I haven't ignored it. I haven't had time to reply yet.
You're doing a right thing. SUP is great, and we're all waiting for new wonderful features for russian users.
Congratulations on a job well done, and don't pay attention to that paranoid bunch of suckers who are against SUP. They're both dumb and mad, their opinion doesn't matter at all.
For example political censorship from KGB and other new wonderfull features)))
To my mind every control of "words" kills democracy...
And the more you know, the less interesting it'll all seem.
Heh. That's a really great statement. =]
using lj for almost 5 years. for free. thanks!
afraid you just don't understand the worries of those who survided the f. communist system. you just miss the point.
frankly i am not interested to hear from you but rather mad to hear what Six Apart lawyers think about this SUP deal.
there is a real test to show that mamut/paulson venture is for-profit and ain't has no political implications. mamut can open a company in california under US law. such SUP USA can get licence for servicing part of LJ users - under Californian laws.
such a Calif company can open a fully owned subsidairy in Russia to handle day to day stuff but all the contracts (including TOS, licence agreement with Six Aprt) will be under protection of the USA.
talk to your lawyers again. that would help.