Getting things started

It is just over a week since I first registered the domain name and I’m enjoying the new role of webmaster. Last weekend I figured out how to work with WordPress, refreshed my Photoshop skills, and came up with a working design for the site. Now that the design is more or less established, it’s time to add content. I’ll probably put up several posts to get things rolling, and after that aim for a pace of about one new post a week.  Since I’ve been collecting media clips for a couple of years, I have a substantial reservoir of options to draw from, so some posts will pull out the best components of my personal “archive” while others will reference the latest twists and turns of life in Russia. I have no doubt that the Russian world will continue to produce fascinating new material for this site.

My goal for each post is to have a link to video, a time reference for the most interesting parts of the video, a short transcript of the most useful passages and a corresonding English translation. The translations will follow the Russian syntax fairly closely and as a result may sometimes read awkwardly; the priority is to assist those who are working with the Russian original. I’ll also provide some brief context for each clip. Readers should keep in mind that I am a cultural scholar, not a political scientist or sociologist, so my commentary will be that of a reasonably informed person rather than that of an in-depth scholar. (My “real” research actually concerns nineteenth-century Russian aesthetics!) I’d also like to point out that various browser add-ons exist that make it possible to download Internet video, which can be handy if you want to use something in class or save it for later offline use.

I’m wondering how the “politics” of this project will play out. My two main video sources are the federal Первый канал / Channel One and the Moscow-based independent channel Дождь / TV Rain, which is the only major television outlet that gives a voice to the political opposition. As I navigate between those two sources, will I be able to keep the site “fair and balanced”? Is that even possible? Probably not–but I’ll do what I can to present multiple perspectives on Russia, temper the negative with the positive, and avoid egregious sins against the truth.

Up until now my Russian current events collections have lived on my isolated hard drive, occasionally shared with small groups of students in class. I’m excited now to launch this project into the worldwide web, and I hope that it will be of use to my colleagues and to Russian language learners everywhere.