Beyond the grid: a special report on the internet and the new east

The internet is a global space but sometimes it mirrors the world’s geography — forming abstract regions defined by a shared past and language. The children of those who once lived trapped behind the Iron Curtain still seek to destroy walls — even if now they are firewalls. In this special report we explore the online space of the new east and what defines it in the global ocean of information.

The internet in the new east stands for freedom. Flexible, affordable and dynamic, online space is the opposite of the unwieldy structures that developed under state bureaucracy. We draw the map of the independent media networks emerging across the region, from Georgia to Kyrgyzstan, Bosnia to Belarus.

The internet in the new east is the anarchic space of renegades and heroes. There is a war on between hackers and the political system, and it’s a battlefield full of strange characters. We follow the hackers of Anonymous International down the narrow streets of Bangkok, exploring why these shady warriors are on a crusade against the government.

The internet in the new east is a cross-section of society. We dive down the rabbit hole where our sense of right and wrong is lost in a swirl of cats and life hacks. Our list of the most successful Russian YouTubers is a curious cross-section of Russian online society and its obsessions: from makeup tutorials, video games and dressing up as Justin Bieber to a former lawyer who handcrafts tools for a post-apocalyptic world.

Explore a day in the life of the internet of the new east, and remember: every minute online is a battle with chaos, and chaos is inside of us all.

Text: Anastasiia Fedorova

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