Something About Classicists?

… or at least guys who like Classics and major social media? Check out this incipit of a piece from

Logo vkontakte.ru

Logo vkontakte.ru (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bloomberg:

In Russia, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faces stiff competition for the role of number one news-making internet wunderkind. His name is Pavel Durov.

Durov, 27, is the founder and CEO of VKontakte (“In Contact”), a Russian social network most easily described as a Facebook clone. Started in 2006, VKontakte has closely mimicked the American trendsetter in terms of design and functionality. With a natively Russian-language interface and a marked disregard for copyright laws — users can freely share music and movies — VKontakte has won a large following among users younger and less sophisticated than those of Russian Facebook. As of April, it had 16.2 million Russian users every day, compared with Facebook’s 2.3 million, according to research firm TNS. […]

… then later:

But it is Durov’s political activities, rather than his business dealings, that have put him in the spotlight. He has emerged as an unlikely star of the protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It all started in December, when the Federal Security Service demanded that VKontakte close down several anti-Putin groups on the site, claiming that they threatened state security. Durov responded with a cheeky tweet that included a picture of a hoodie-wearing German shepherd with its tongue sticking out. The groups remained operative. No reprisals followed, and Durov’s firmness earned him accolades in the blogosphere.

… which makes me immediately like this guy. Then it gets better:

Durov’s background and radical position play into the hands of Putin’s propaganda machine, which is doing its best to convince Russians that mass protests in Moscow and other big cities are the work of decadent intellectuals with no connection to the heartland and no regard for traditional national values. To Durov, the son of a prominent St. Petersburg classicist, contempt for these values comes easily, and he makes no secret of it.

So I try to find out more about his father and I come to another page which includes:

Pavel Durov was born in St. Petersburg, but spent most of his childhood in Italy, in the city of Turin. His father Valery Durov (who holds a Ph. D. in Philology) was working there. He went to an Italian elementary school, and after returning to Russia attended the Academy Gymnasium in St. Petersburg.

After school, Durov followed in his father’s footsteps. He attended the philological department of St. Petersburg State University and was preparing to become a translator. While studying, he created an online-library for his fellow students to help them share books and notes. All of a sudden, his invention became popular all over the University. Encouraged by this success Durov expanded by launching a University forum. Maintaining and developing it, he came up with the concept of a student social network.

… so perhaps even the younger Durov might be considered a Classicist of some sort. So I guess now when people ask “What can you do with Classics?” we can respond “become a social media giant.” QED.

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2 thoughts on “Something About Classicists?

  1. Why would he be considered a classicist? The Philological Faculty of a Russian university covers all langauge studies, ancient and modern, with the grand plurality of students doing Russian literature or Russian language/linguistics. If he was going to be a translator, he obviously did a modern language. I would not be surprised if it were Italian, meaning he had relatively little to learn.

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