Changes in the Graphosphere.

A few years ago I read Simon Franklin’s Writing, Society and Culture in Early Rus, c.950-1300 and found it very enlightening (see this post), so when Jonathan Morse alerted me to his new book, The Russian Graphosphere, 1450-1850, I went to the Amazon page, saw (with sadness but no surprise) that the price was outrageous (for shame, Cambridge University Press!), and had the free Kindle sample sent to me forthwith (thanks, Amazon!). Much of the introduction is laying out of concepts and intentions, but I thought the section about the chronological benchmarks was interesting enough to share. He says the range 1450-1850 will seem banal to historians of Western Europe but will probably surprise Russianists, ignoring as it does the supposedly fundamental shift brought about by Peter the Great, and goes on to explain the start and end points:

The ‘graphospheric’ excuse for beginning from the second half of the fifteenth century is derived from a cluster of disparate phenomena, few (or none) of which may be regarded as particularly dramatic or decisive in themselves, but which together reflect initial stages in the emergence of the early modern graphosphere. A continuous practice of public inscription in Muscovy can be traced to the late fifteenth century. In the second half of the fifteenth century, after decades of coexistence, paper replaced parchment as the almost exclusive material for the production of manuscripts. The same period also saw the end of the continuous or regular tradition of using birch bark as a material for inscription. Wax replaced metal as the normal material for seals. With regard to the linguistic landscape, in the late fifteenth century coinage ceased to be bi-scriptal in Cyrillic and Arabic, becoming monolingually Slavonic. Towards the end of the century Muscovites could also see the first prominent public lapidary inscriptions in Latin. With regard to technologies of the visible word: the craft of casting cannons in bronze was brought to Moscow in the late 1480s, and cannons (and bronze-cast bells) became regular bearers of monumental inscriptions. Or, with respect to a more familiar technology: although Muscovite printing did not start until the middle of the sixteenth century, active engagement with products of the printing press (via imported books) can also be dated to the final decade of the fifteenth century. Finally, with regard to institutions of production: the emergence of regular specialised administrative personnel is normally traced to the second half of the fifteenth century, an initial phase in the emergence of a state bureaucracy.

* * *

On the one hand, by the mid nineteenth century the modern Russian graphosphere had taken shape. Not that it was in any way finalised, since graphospheres are always changing; but key features were recognisable and established. In public spaces, in private spaces, in commercial and administrative spaces, a graphospheric ecology had emerged. Cities teemed with clerks, collectively a machine for producing massive quantities of handwritten documents. Print, if not entirely unrestricted, had made the transition from quasi-monopoly ownership to market commodity, diffused in its production, diverse in its products. The public graphosphere had taken on its principal forms and genres and had seeped into its principal locations. Shop signs and posters, trade notices, street signs, house signs, mileposts, inscribed statuary, all had become familiar. Indeed, by the mid nineteenth century such phenomena had come to be perceived not only as environmental facts but also as cultural themes promoting reflection, analysis, interpretation. These general processes are reducible to more granular microprocesses, which will be explored in the following chapters. As in the case of incipient features in the late fifteenth century, so in the case of completed transitions by the mid nineteenth century, the overall picture emerges from details that are often unrelated. In 1851, after nearly a hundred years of handwritten verification (albeit to a diminishing extent) all signatures on Russian banknotes were printed; towards the mid nineteenth century plaques of private fire insurance companies proliferated on houses in major cities; branding as a form of punishment (and identification) was formally abolished in 1863. In the middle decades of the nineteenth century steel-nib pens came to replace quill pens. And so on.

On the other hand, alongside this partial completion there were new departures. One such innovation was the introduction of the industrial-scale, steam-driven rotary press. The rotary press, which enabled a huge increase in the capacity to reproduce words quickly and in very large quantities, represents (arguably) a technical leap potentially as transformative as the introduction of hand presses and movable type. However, the rotary press still counts as print. A more radical new beginning was the introduction and early use of the electrical telegraph. The electrical telegraph represents the most fundamental change in the technology of the word since the invention of script. It reversed all previous practices of encoding, distribution and retrieval of words. It made words invisible. The text was de-materialised. The telegraph separated speech from speaker without the need to turn words into things. It was, in a sense, the first ‘anti-graphospheric’ technology of information. In its invisibility it differed not only from script-based technologies but also from sign-based communication such as smoke signals, flag semaphore or indeed the optical telegraph. Electrical telegraphy’s trick of dematerialisation, of turning words into invisible, intangible and inaudible signals, was an initial but crucial departure. It did not yet provide a means of storage. Nevertheless, it was the first in the accelerating sequence of non-manual, non-mechanical technologies of information. The first public telegraph office in Russia opened in 1852. The telegraph and the rotary press added fresh elements to the graphospheric ecology, prompted fresh shifts in its shape and contours. They did not, of course, instantly create a new epoch, but in the history of the Russian graphosphere the mid nineteenth century provides a reasonable moment if not for an entirely new narrative, at least for an intonational pause.

You should be able to get a general sense of what he means by “graphosphere” from that; I like that kind of new approach to familiar phenomena, arranging them into unaccustomed groupings and giving you a fresh perspective on history.

Comments

  1. not to derail things on a minor point but is “graphosphere” a kind of back-formation or retronym from “blogosphere”? what’s the history of “-osphere” words?

  2. @AG: Atmosphere is probably the oldest (coined in the seventeenth century), with the transparent meaning of “gas ball”—the spheroidal gas surrounding the Earth or another celestial body. In Earth science, lots of other terms ending in –osphere were coined for aspects of the planet that might actually be spherical (lithosphere) or are at least global in extent (hydrosphere, ecosphere). So when blogosphere first appeared, it seemed to be a consciously intended to indicate the global nature of the blogging environment (just like the earlier World-Wide Web).

    According to the OED etymology for blogosphere: “Brad Graham is said to have first used the word in a blog dated 10 Sept. 1999 (‘Goodbye, cyberspace! Hello, blogiverse! Blogosphere? Blogmos?’), but the Internet Archive Wayback Machine page captures of the blog taken between January 2000 and April 2002 do not contain the relevant paragraph.” If the quote is accurate, it is quite clear that the term was indeed coined in an attempt to indicate universality.

  3. Here is how Simon Franklin defined the term in the earlier article “Mapping the Graphosphere: Cultures of Writing in Early 19th-Century Russia (and Before)”:

    The “graphosphere” here denotes the totality of graphic devices used to record, store, display, and disseminate messages and information, and the social and cultural spaces in which they figure. All forms of depiction are part of the graphosphere.

    I quite like the concept and the coinage as it allows one to talk about things like typography, epigraphs, and lettering that don’t quite seem to fit what we usually mean by “writing”.
    As for -sphere words, I have noticed some like Sinosphere, Anglosphere, Eurosphere, Yugosphere, etc., used mainly to refer to areas of cultural influence—cultural spheres.

  4. ah I didn’t think of words like Anglosphere! According to this, that’s very recent as well? https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Anglosphere … are there any other ones aside from geography terms that are older than the last couple of decades?

    I really, really hated the word “blogosphere” when it appeared, mainly because 1) my subjective perception of its ugly sound – “blog” is such an ugly word on its own and the addition somehow seemed to multiply the ugliness (the hissing sound of sphere after the consonant clot of “blog” really upset me), and 2) my subjective perception of its ugly formation: because “blog” didn’t have an “o” at the end and so made the clumsiness of the artificial word formation worse somehow to me (I think this is maybe a similar problem a lot of people have with “-(o)holic”?).

    I’ve definitely warmed to it with time and probably use it often myself without thinking.

  5. J.W. Brewer says:

    One can find the metaphorical use of the fixed phrase “sphere of influence” (side by side with what seems to have been a scientific usage that is now probably obsolete) in English texts well back into the 18th century. Of course when one is discussing the “sphere of influence” of a particular individual (or of an abstraction such as “wisdom”), it can be easily conceptualized as extending the same distance in all directions and thus as spherical. It’s probably circa the late 19th century, when people started talking about e.g. the Portuguese sphere of influence in Africa while looking at a map upon which that sphere would take a specific and very non-spherical shape, that the original geometry of the metaphor got overridden.

    FWIW as far as the google books corpus knows, the first attestation of “Portuguese sphere of influence” seems to predate the first attestation of “Lusosphere” by exactly a century: 1888 v. 1988.

  6. The OED has a subentry (under sphere) for “sphere of action (also sphere of influence, sphere of interest),” although they only have one citation for sphere of action (by an author who also uses “sphere of influence”) and none for sphere of interest. Moreover, in the jargon of international relations (particularly in relation to imperialism), sphere of influence is generally used only to refer to certain arrangements that fall short of full colonial government. It is not exactly wrong to talk about the “the [former] Portuguese sphere of influence in Africa,” but it certainly seems like an imprecise use of the terminology.

    Nineteenth-century European powers enjoyed spheres of influences in decaying (but still self-governing) states like the Ottoman Empire or Qing China. Russia had a sphere of influence in Manchuria; France had a sphere in southern China, adjacent to their Indochinese colonies; the British sphere was centered around Shanghai and in Tibet; and the Germans had a small sphere of influence around Qingdao. Merchants from these countries enjoyed favorable trade concessions in their spheres, sometimes including exclusive rights to import and export through that territory. The famous “Open Door” policy expounded by Secretary of State John Hay was aimed at getting America equal access to Chinese ports.

    Another illustrative example of spheres of influence was that Churchill and Stalin wanted to partition oil-rich Iran between the Soviet sphere in the north and a British one in the south. (Asserting western influence over postwar Iran was one, albeit minor, reason why the 1943 Eureka conference was held in Tehran.) Although Roosevelt, following longstanding American policy, disapproved of formal spheres of influences, Britain did retain concessions in the country after the war. Postwar Iran retained its independence, but when British control over the country’s oil exports was threatened, the British sought CIA aid to overthrow Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.

  7. J.W. Brewer says:

    The Anglo-Portuguese treaty of 1891 uses it as a term of art, with formal provisions like “It is agreed that the western line of division separating the British from the Portuguese sphere of influence in Central Africa shall follow the centre of the channel of the Upper Zambesi, starting from the Katima Rapids up to the point where” blah blah blah. It may be the case that neither of those outside powers had yet fully subjected all of the territory in question to effective full-on colonial rule and the point was to agree who could attempt to do that where. Here’s a map from 6 years later where all of the relevant Portuguese “sphere” is simply “Portuguese East Africa” with at least the approximate current boundaries of Mozambique, but present-day Zambia etc. are still within a British “sphere.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphere_of_influence#/media/File:Map_of_colonial_Africa_in_1897.jpg

    (The map is also interesting for still having some remaining zones of “unclaimed” space neither occupied by a recognized independent polity nor yet within the “sphere” of any European power.)

  8. Both 1450 and 1850 are pretty meaningful dates in Russian history in general. Traditionally, Moscow together with a good part of North-Eastern Rus is considered an independent entity since 1480 (the Great standoff on Ugra river) and somewhat after 1850, in 1861 with the abolition of the serfdom Russia rapidly becomes a capitalist country. Pretty clearly, Moscow’s independence didn’t change substantially economic settlement in Russian lands and on the flip side, abolition of serfdom didn’t change geopolitical interests of the Empire. But if you want consistency, history shouldn’t be your subject.

    Traditional textbook subdivision would be something like 1480-1613 (from independence to Romanovs, if you don’t like Romanovs, pick your date for the end of the Time of Troubles), 1613-1721 (first Romanov to Empire, you can pick up some other date within Peter’s reign), 1721-1861 and onward.

  9. Brett: I can almost swear I don’t think the original term “weblog” >> ((world-wide-web)-log”) it itself that old, ISTR remember when it was being first tentatively used myself. I can tell you for sure that “anglosphere” came from Neal Stephenson just a few years earlier. That’s mid-to late 90’s. I don’t think “weblog” was around in the 90’s. The shortening “weblog” >> “blog” itself came at least in 2003-4, again, according to my personal, just-woke-up memory. Blogosphere was a joculirar thing much later, maybe Cory Doctorow came up with it? You know, because “world-wide-web-log-o-sphere” is funny, you already have “world” in there and you also ad “sphere” and Neal’s thing was already joking with the “anglosphere” thing? It’s a certain SF-circles kind of humour.

    These were all originally tongue-in-cheek, and still are in my mind.

  10. It feels strange to see Russia defined as Muscovy even as early as 1450. Wasn’t most of the things Russian-cultural happening in the other Grand Duchy then, the one of Lithuania (which gradually transitioned from Cyrillics to Latinics, and which exerted outsize influence beyond its formal borders in Novgorod, Tver and Ryazan) ? With a gradual increase of Hebrew as well?
    Kiev was still considered the center of Russian literacy and thought a century later.

    I don’t think I’ve read about Arabic-Cyrillic script dualism before. Some pointers would be welcome!

  11. “It feels strange to see Russia defined as Muscovy even as early as 1450.”

    Agreed, it seems anachronistic.

  12. are there any other ones aside from geography terms that are older than the last couple of decades?

    From Wiki:


    The noosphere is a philosophical concept developed and popularized by the French philosopher and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the biogeochemist Vladimir Vernadsky. Vernadsky defined the noosphere as the new state of the biosphere[1] and described as the planetary “sphere of reason”.[2] [3] The noosphere represents the highest stage of biospheric development, its defining factor being the development of humankind’s rational activities. [4]

    The term noosphere was first used in the publications of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in 1922[9] in his Cosmogenesis.

  13. SFReader: And of course, it’s from de Chardin’s intellectual descendants that we get idea of the science-fictional Singularity, by way of the Omega point. EDIT: and Rudy Rucker certainly had fun with it (noosphere, I mean).

  14. It’s funny, but the only book I’ve read of this great thinker was “The Letters of Teilhard de Chardin and Lucile Swan”.

    It gave me a kind of imagined familiarity or even intimacy, like he was my Facebook friend for decades or something.

    Wonderful book, by the way. Lots of interesting details about expat life in China in 1920-30s.

    I was particularly interested in their common friend Nirgidma de Torhout, a Mongol princess and journalist (and polyglot, of course – spoke seven languages).

    Another amazing woman, way ahead of her time and culture.

  15. SFreader: I’m sorry, but from “Wiki”? Is “Wiki” now a proper noun for Jimmy Wales’ latest project-turned-popular-website?

    And that does seem like an interesting book.

  16. David Marjanović says:

    Is “Wiki” now a proper noun for Jimmy Wales’ latest project-turned-popular-website?

    Don’t tell me you’ve never encountered that. Wikipedia was abbreviated that way (by people who didn’t know what a wiki otherwise was) pretty much immediately.

  17. I have, but in only very informal contexts by very young people, and only on the Internet. It’s a bit of a shock to see it here. And I guess that, in retrospect Jimmy Wales pretty much borrowed that word into English from Hawaiian without meaning to, with a different meaning, however brief that borrowing might be.

    Not saying Language hat is not informal, but I take it more seriously that wikipedia.org

  18. I don’t think “weblog” was around in the 90’s. The shortening “weblog” >> “blog” itself came at least in 2003-4, again, according to my personal, just-woke-up memory.

    Recency illusion strikes again. OED has “weblog” from 1997 and “blog” from 1999 (P. Merholz peterme.com May 28: “For those keeping score on blog commentary from outside the blog community”); I was certainly familiar with the term when I started reading blogs (thanks to Songdog) in 2000-01.

  19. And I was giving a Greek derivation in 2003, less than a year after starting this (now venerable) blog.

  20. I know the feeling — half of this blog consists of my hoping someone will do my work for me!

    [response to a now-deleted comment by V]

  21. language hat: thank you.

  22. It struck me just now that Captain Jack Aubrey would have been able to understand what a blog was.

    It’s just another kind of log not too dissimilar to the logbooks he kept at sea.

    Only instead of useful information like

    “AM. Plenty of Rain, Moderate Breeze of Wind, Swayed up Yards & Topmts. Cut 12 Fathom off. of a Condemnd Cable for Junk. P.M. Fine Weather Loosed the Sails to Dry. the Barge went on Shore, with an Officer, in search of the Cutter, Received 853 lb. Beef. Broachd 1 Cask of Rum. 2 Boxes of Candles, 1 Sack of Barley the Barge returned, but no News of the Cutter”

    we write more trivial and flighty things on these blogs.

  23. “Wikipedia was abbreviated that way (by people who didn’t know what a wiki otherwise was) pretty much immediately.”

    Hm, no. that is a very recent (as in maybe 3-4 year ago) phenomenon. Again, keep in mind that I might be suffering from a recency illusion.

  24. I’m afraid so. I remember it from years earlier than that.

  25. And in fact I used it in this 2005 post.

  26. John Cowan says:

    Strictly speaking, Jimmy Wales’s latest projects are Wikia/Fandom, a wiki farm containing many wikis large and small; WikiTribune, a news site originally combining the efforts of professional and citizen journalists (more or less a flop); and WT Social, a donation-supported social media and microblogging site. All of them, unlike WP (my preferred abbrev) are for-profit and independent of the Wikimedia Foundation.

  27. The problem with WP is that it’s highly context-dependent; “Wiki” may be sloppy but it’s clearer. (Not to deprecate your use of it, which is of course clear in context.)

  28. ‹ I don’t think I’ve read about Arabic-Cyrillic script dualism before. ›
    No, neither have I. Can anyone explain? I mean, one can see how and why it would have worked – coins travelling to Bysantium and then on to Arabic lands. But used in Russian countries to mint Russian coins?

    ‹ graphosphere ›
    I like it! I’ve punched in ???сфера into poiskslov and got 11 examples: астросфера (astrosphere), гелиосфера (heliosphere), гидросфера (hydrosphere), озоносфера (ozonosphere), планисфера (planisphere, not sure what that is), социосфера (sociosphere), термосфера (thermosphere), техносфера (technosphere), тропосфера (troposphere), хионосфера (chionosphere – what’s that?), хромосфера (chromosphere)
    They all seem usable to me in English. (For some reason poisk didn’t list the obvious atmosphere)

    ‹ Muscovy in 1450 ›
    May not be as strange as it seems when you remember that Rus used to be plural, and indeed there were several – White, Red, Black, Lesser, Greater.

  29. January First-of-May says:

    And I guess that, in retrospect Jimmy Wales pretty much borrowed that word into English from Hawaiian without meaning to, with a different meaning, however brief that borrowing might be.

    Not Jimmy Wales, but Ward Cunningham, in 1995, and he knew both that it was Hawaiian and what it meant; here‘s his account of the borrowing.
    (TL/DR: it was inspired by the Wiki Wiki Shuttle, a passenger service in Honolulu Airport.)

    Jimmy Wales was working in an environment where “wiki” was an accepted term for a kind of website that his WikiPedia (est. 2001) was an example of. The later use of “wiki” to refer to the (ultimately far more famous) 2001 project (as opposed to Ward’s 1995 one, or any other successors) was just metonymy (without any extra borrowings involved).

     
    EDIT:

    No, neither have I. Can anyone explain? I mean, one can see how and why it would have worked – coins travelling to Bysantium and then on to Arabic lands. But used in Russian countries to mint Russian coins?

    There was effectively no coin-issuing tradition in 14th century Rus; despite the 11th century experiment in native coinage, for centuries both before and after it (and even during it, judging by hoard evidence), the East Slavs tended to use their neighbours’ coins.

    In the 14th century, this would have mostly meant Golden Horde coins, which had legends in Arabic.
    As such, the first native coins by the Russian states (after the above-mentioned Kievan Rus experiment) were made in imitation of Golden Horde coins, and had Arabic legends.

    (Apparently some of those issues actually had meaningful relevant legends in Arabic, some copied the originals so well that they could be read but the resulting texts had nothing to do with Rus, and some just had meaningless squiggles.
    I’m not actually sure how did any issues with relevant legends manage to get made; perhaps Michael of Tver employed Tatar die-cutters at his mint.)

    Presumably eventually, as the supremacy of the Golden Horde waned, the coins slowly switched to Russian legends only, and lost the Arabic.
    (In fact, there’s a type from the 1470s that has Latin lettering, “Ornistoteles” – apparently referring to Aristotele Fioravanti.)

    For some reason poisk didn’t list the obvious atmosphere

    Judging by your list, you apparently (accidentally?) limited the search to 10-letter words. You might wish to change the number of question marks.

  30. Coins minted in Grand Duchy of Moscow in 14-15th centuries had Russian on one side (with name of the current Grand Duke of Moscow) and Arabic on another side (with name of the current Khan of the Golden Horde).

    The reasons are obvious. Grand Duchy of Moscow like most Russian principalities was not an independent state, but vassal of the Golden Horde (Muslim since 1313 and hence using Arabic in official documents).

    If Grand Duke were to mint a coin with his own name only, omitting name of his overlord, it would be taken as a proclamation of independence from the Golden Horde.

    Which Moscow didn’t want yet, because it felt Tatars were still too strong.

  31. I’ve punched in ???сфера into poiskslov and got 11 examples: астросфера (astrosphere), гелиосфера (heliosphere), гидросфера (hydrosphere), озоносфера (ozonosphere), планисфера (planisphere, not sure what that is), социосфера (sociosphere), термосфера (thermosphere), техносфера (technosphere), тропосфера (troposphere), хионосфера (chionosphere – what’s that?), хромосфера (chromosphere)

    What, no биосфера (biosphere)? Poor Lev Gumilyov!

  32. As such, the first native coins by the Russian states (after the above-mentioned Kievan Rus experiment) were made in imitation of Golden Horde coins, and had Arabic legends.

    Compare the mancus struck by King Offa of Mercia in the late eighth century, which “combines the central legend OFFA REX with the Islamic šahāda ‘There is no God but Allah…’, in Arabic, round the rim, and an Arabic inscription on the reverse. It is all copied off a 774 dinar of Manṣūr in the contemporary Abbasid Caliphate.”

  33. PlasticPaddy says:

    @sfr
    “By 1450, the Tatar language had become fashionable in the court of the Grand Prince of Moscow, Vasily II, who was accused of excessive love of the Tatars and their speech, and many Russian noblemen adopted Tatar surnames…”
    Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongol_invasion_of_Kievan_Rus%27
    This surprised me, I knew there was something similar in Moorish Spain and in formerly Christian parts of the Ottoman Empire.

  34. It looks like early 1400s Russian coins didn’t have Arabic already (although many coins had Latin, having been commissioned from Hungary or other places abroad), and that Moscow was already a center of coin minting, from where localities such as Novgorod may have invited artisans?
    http://izhig.ru/numizmat/chekanka-deneg-v-velikom-novgorode.php

    Here is an example of a 1470s coin copying a Hungarian design.

  35. accused of excessive love of the Tatars

    I think George Vernadsky dealt with this issue in one of his volumes of History of Russia.

    Basically, Tatar cavalry was superior to traditional Russian cavalry. It was proven again and again in battle after battle.

    So Vasily II did the smart thing and copied everything and I mean everything – weapons, armor, dress, tactics, horses, military commands and terminology. And of course, he needed experts, so he paid handsome money and hundreds of Tatar warriors settled in Muscovite lands. Hence, the long list of Russian aristocratic surnames of Tatar origin:

    Aksakov, Alyab’yev, Apraksin, Arakcheyev, Arsen’yev, Akhmatov, Babichev, Balashov, Baranov, Basmanov, Baturin, Beketov, Berdyayev, Bibikov, Bil’basov, Bichurin, Boborykin, Bulgakov, Bunin, Burtsev, Buturlin, Bukharin, Vel’yaminov, Gogol’, Godunov, Gorchakov, Gorshkov, Derzhavin, Yepanchin, Yermolayev, Izmaylov, Kantemirov, Karamazov, Karamzin, Kireyevskiy, Korsakov, Kochubey, Kropotkin, Kurakin, Kurbatov, Milyukov, Michurin, Rakhmaninov, Saltykov, Stroganov, Tagantsev, Talyzin, Taneyev, Tatishchev, Timashev, Timiryazev, Tret’yakov, Turgenev, Turchaninov, Tyutchev, Uvarov, Urusov, Ushakov, Khanykov, Chaadayev, Shakhovskoy, Sheremet’yev, Shishkov, Yusupov…

  36. John Cowan: strictly speaking, a new social network that has not XMPP as backbone is pointless.

  37. David Eddyshaw says:

    So Vasily II did the smart thing and copied everything and I mean everything – weapons, armor, dress, tactics, horses, military commands and terminology.

    The Dagomba of what is now northern Ghana adopted a similar approach when repeatedly defeated in battle by Ashanti musketeers, inviting some of those Ashanti musketeers to immigrate and become the Dagomba warrior clan (to this day called Kambɔnsi “Ashanti.”)

    Immigrants indeed bring many benefits to their host communities.

  38. David Marjanović says:

    планисфера (planisphere, not sure what that is)

    Just a world map.

    хионосфера (chionosphere – what’s that?)

    Snow, χιών in Ancient Greek.

  39. Here are your Lithosphere, Hydrosphere, Biosphere and even oh-so-Gumilevian Anthroposphere in a XIX c. Russian text
    https://www.google.com/books/edition/Zapiski_Imperatorskago_khar%CA%B9kovskago_un/vfAAAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%D0%B0%D0%BD%D1%82%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%BF%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%84%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B0&pg=PA194&printsec=frontcover
    Definitely not Gumilev’s inventions.

  40. John Cowan says:

    V: To each their own technical opinion. I love XML, and I think XMPP is a horrible abuse of it. An enhanced IRC protocol would have been far simpler and better.

     —jcowan@irc.freenet.org (mostly on #chicken, #cobol, #guile, ##lisp (not #lisp very often), #scheme, and the Channel That Must Not Be Named).

  41. You may be able to get institutional access via https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/russian-graphosphere-14501850/3CA871F2D79F3AC9E74582C6050D2198 Cambridge-core. But yes, a hard copy on your own shelves is proxy

  42. Lars Mathiesen says:

    John, maybe you have this in your archives — I’m pretty sure that I saw an April 1 (1988) Usenet post by a member of the backbone cabal saying that the Great Renaming was a flop and would be rolled back. But my Google-fu fails me, and I have not been able to find it online.

  43. John Cowan says:

    Alas, no, my whole pre-1999 archive was lost irrevocably due to typing “mv a b” when I of course meant “mv b a”. Since then I am religious about running automated backup (to AWS S3).

  44. Lars Mathiesen says:

    I feel your loss.

  45. @January First-of-May
    You’re right! I put in four ???? and got atmosphere, lithosphere and some others. Thanks, poisk is a very useful tool, but I keep forgetting about its limitations.

    and thanks to you and others for the explanation of Arabic on Russian coins. It all makes sense.

  46. I know planisphere only in the astronomical sense, an aid to find the position of visible stars or constellations for any time and date. You can get them at public observatories (like the one I got from the Greenwich Observatory museum a long time ago).

    Re chionosphere: Wiki credits one Stanislav Kalesnik with the introduction of the term.

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