BTW later, when I was a young teenager in Poland's nineties, already under neoliberal capitalism, I dreamt of the commercials on TV being informative and helpful instead of the brainwashing puke they were (and still are). As an Amiga fanboy, I especially dreamt of a commercial campain that would convince people of Amiga's technical strengths :) Ah, the innocent years of youth.
It seems crazy to me now. Not because they weren't really good products for the time but because I was hitching myself to a commercial organisation with its own agenda on everything. Unless you're a share holder cheering on a commercial organisation, as I did, is silly.
If I could go back in time and speak to my younger self I'd point out that at least with FOSS you've as much right to the future of a project as anyone else. RMS really is correct on that.
Well said. The rot started some years earlier. See BYTE and other contemporary computer mags going downhill or shutting down, after a great run of many years, for example. Those computer mags used to have pages and pages of code listings, and text explaining the code (even though they still had ads for products, you could either ignore them, or read them as I often did, to learn about new tech, and some of the products were even good and interesting). Same thing happened with National Geographic magazine, sadly. My dad had a lifelong subscription to NatGeo gifted to him by a mentor who he lived with in the States, a friend of his father, while doing college there. We used to get the issues in India each month (when not stolen by the postal staff, which happened sometimes). As I grew up, I noticed the mag getting thinner, less pages for articles and photos, and more for ads.
I remember reading a very good article about Huffman coding with an explanation, figures and C code or pseudocode, by Jonathan Amsterdam, in a BYTE issue. BYTE used to have specials sometimes, notable ones were the issues on Smalltalk and Lisp (one each), in which articles about those subjects filled almost the entire magazine. The Ciarcia's Circuit Cellar column by Steve Ciarcia was great too, so much that I used to read it even though I did not have a background in electronics or hardware.
In fact, for some issues, BYTE's cover art by Robert Tinney became collector items.
DDJ (Dr. Dobb's Journal (of Computer Calisthenics and Orthodontia was the original name, IIRC) and CUJ (C User's Journal, later became C and C++ UJ), were excellent too. Many really good articles on C and C++, both on the language and algorithms for various purposes.
I miss those days, dammit.
[ While most people waited until the 8080 or 6502 to discover computing, back in 1974 I had an 8008 homebrew system running immediately after it appeared (see Photo 1). I paid $120 (converts to about $500 today) for that 8008 chip, and to this day, I remember sweating as I powered it up the first time. Would it be puff, pop, or hum? Well, it worked. ]
The parts about the subterfuge and skullduggery going on in the industry then are also interesting.
"During the same decade all this was going on at my end, BYTE was experiencing significant changes as well."
is also very interesting. Several paragraphs from there describe how he started his own magazine, Circuit Cellar, after BYTE changed direction.
I'd rather have billboards than oppression, but maybe that's just me.
Being born and having lived there for the first few years of my life, these pictures looks as exotic and strange to me as pictures from Yemen or Kazakhstan.
I'm not saying they're not real, but these pictures are clearly selected to be as far from what an average Western person considers to be "normal".
I guess it's like going to the US, only focusing on the Amish and extrapolating their way of life to the whole country.
I'm guessing you're from somewhere prosperous? I mean even today, yes Sopot and Warsaw are just masses of Porsches and pretty women, but that isn't the case in some less well-off areas.
Amish also still exist. The issue is, this portrays a country that was by then very diverse, through a very specific perspective, that, through a rather suspicious coincidence, happens to match western stereotypes about the country, instead of challenging it.
Doesn't change the fact those are good photos, but while there might be true in their literal content, as a whole they provide a false narrative.
Many farm pictures can be seen with a 1 hour drive from Sopot today. There are some really remote places where people have horses, yet they have near gigabit LTE service. Borzestowo for example.
Coming from America where we have no single ancestor except “freedom” it’s hard to imagine why people would want to hang out there like that. However, it’s just part of the culture. We are lucky to be part of it.
I spent many summers there as a kid.
I've been in Poland only in 2000's but while watching these photos I could not believe that this is what Poland looked in 80s. Looks like some kind of village in middle of nowhere in 60's. The pictures were clearly selected to portray it as somewhat poor and non-western. The question is tho: Why?
It also makes people better off feel better about themselves. "You finish that plate right now, kids in Africa/India/wherever would give anything to have your food!"
I've rarely seen horses, and when I did they were a novelty, tractors were much more common.
I'm contrasting this with the USA where farming practices make use of a lot of highly specialized machines and huge scale. Actually many of the farmers I know in the USA are quite well off due to a combination of subsidies and very large operations.
What makes photography interesting is that a photo tells you everything and nothing about a subject.
Nothing shown in any photograph is real because you're looking at an impression of reality at a single moment in time.
Yeah you could find people riding on horse-drawn carts in Poland in 80s. 1 for every 100 cars or more. Now count cars and horses on these photos :)
Also, the image of the old Polish peasant lady crying just outside Auschwitz is really, really powerful: https://i.imgur.com/uqTGzLO.jpg . Her headscarf (we call it "basma" here in Romania) is almost identical to what my both grandmas used to wear.
Also trade trips to some other socialist countries that would happen to be better off at the moment. Depending on when exactly, it could be Czech Republic, Hungary, Yugoslavia etc.
BTW, is that a feature of an old film, but all those photos look very very grim to me :) Even the ones where people joke and laugh.
It has English subtitles ;)
It's hard and possibly erroneous to judge from this temporal distance, but the more I look through cultural artifacts (and what memories I have), the more I feel that the spirit of the time was similar in many aspects across the US, Europe and the USSR (and maybe SE Asia too). Probably because the economy became progressively more global, and because there was a steady trickle of Western culture into even the USSR proper, since the 60s.
I'd go with "distinctly Polish" in many cases. The folklore clothing, wood art, ceramic heater/oven, trabant, polonez, priests, village houses, etc. are not just exotic. For me they're very much pictures that identify the set as 100% Poland. There are some exotic things in PL that would be less relatable.
I think the photographer did an awesome job with the selection.
It's notable how the USSR never really dumped traditional folk culture: folk tales were featured extensively in children's books, and folklore-based art was prominent. (This might've had something to do with how the government had to raise everyone's support and morale during wartime, afaik even dropping the intense opposition to religion.)
And, from what I know, mainland and especially Central European countries tend to hold tighter to their traditional culture compared to both the US and Russia (the latter having wandered around in search of its identity all through the past three centuries).
I'm not Polish, but those scenes could very well qualify as being from my country (Romania). There's more similarities between countries in Eastern Europe than we'd like to admit :)
Eg. even sizeable cities such as Wrocław are referred to as "towns"... Poznań is supposedly located in the Silesia region... Sopot is referred to alternately by its Polish and German name (Zopott), and the German name is given as the primary one for Frombork (misspelled "Fronbork"), while the Motława river is named "Mottlau" exclusively for some reason, etc.
But English still does distinguish between the two, so when you read about a "town" in Poland, what you imagine probably isn't the 4th largest city in the country, home to over 600 thousand people.
If these parts stay unchanged, we will soon see places like (in Poland and elsewhere) as an oasis from the super-advanced reality most of the population lives within.
Going off other comments here and stories from my parents, the commercials and ads back then were thought to present a more modern, futuristic, "better" life that people worked hard to obtain.
Soon, the commercials will present a simpler, older life that we dream of escaping to just for a moment. Interesting thought.
And they did have tractors. Plowing with a horse was a curiosity even in the eighties.
Harvesters and tractors were often rented for specific tasks.
I remember the outrage over Microsoft Encarta which used photos similar to the Barbey's ones to illustrate the "Poland" entry in 2003 :)
Two can play that game, http://www.landoverbaptist.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/... - life of an American citizen, 2016.
And two did play it indeed :) Communist propaganda would actually pull a similar trick on the West, focusing the coverage on the stuff that was, well; weird or creepy at best.
For example the "This is America" documentaries (by Romano Vanderbes) were broadcasted on the communist TV in 70s/80s in prime time. An average viewer would assume it to be an accurate representation of the prevalent lifestyle.
No, not everybody had a tractor - that would be ineffective, given how many small family-owned farms there were. But they did use tractors and combine harvesters. TBH I don't know whether they were shared between neighbors or just unofficially borrowed(#) for a bottle of vodka from the state farms (PGR).
(#)There's this Polish verb "załatwić" which I cannot properly translate to English. It means obtaining products or services using ones connections, cunning and possibly transfer of a usual token of appreciation as in "załatwić za flachę" (obtain something in exchange for a bottle of vodka).
EDIT: Then again, maybe not. When I hear people in Poland use that word, I'd maybe translate it as "organise" or "arrange", but only in the sense of arranging the acquirement of something.
Overall the gap was more along the lines of big cities vs. province as you say; rather than geographical. In a centrally planned economy large urban centers were overprivileged in the pecking order.
(not that there is anything wrong with it)
BTW, if you’ve never watched this series you absolutely should, esp, Dekalog 1 should be required watching for technical people, as an antidote to the hubris we sometimes feel in describing nature. Now that I have a son at that age, it strikes even closer!
That photo of Lenin with the "Solidarity" newspaper and a sign on the jacket - nice humor and is pretty telling that Poland definitely was rejecting the socialism as a foreign object :)
edit: thank you, corrected the link
As the "Right wing" you mean national socialists - who want socialism only for a given group of people.
True right (as in Libertarians) was ridiculed by the likes of Michnik.
yes, i know, and you're right in the sense that it is a bit more complicated than i originally said. The fall of real socialism in 198x in USSR was also associated with the part of society having that naive/romantic longing of "back to good socialism as it was originally envisioned by the great wise fuzzy warm grandpa Lenin" (never mind that Lenin was presiding over and directing the class- and political based genocide on the national scale as a natural part of his socialism) as opposed to supposedly incorrectly implemented real socialism of the time. So the Lenin explicitly embracing "Solidarity" artifacts on that photo is exactly the symbol of the same "back to and more of the good original socialism" and a rejection of that "wrong" real socialism.
The catch of course is there is only one socialism, and it is not the "good one" as that just doesn't exist...
‘Mass production’ goods from the 80s are now sold very cheaply second-hand, e.g. you can get these backpacks starting with $5, plenty for $15: https://www.avito.ru/rossiya?q=%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B5%D1%8...
The system was clearly in the final phase of decline, and the crisis had struck hard.
The living standard had deteriorated considerably in comparison to the much more cheerful 1970s (when foreign credits helped to boost the consumption).
This shows in numerous statistics such as eg. alcohol or nicotine consumption, which peaked in the 1980s.
The economic growth in communist Europe was on average 4 times slower than in the Western part of the continent.
This collection on the other hand is very much communism heavy: https://historycollection.co/24-pictures-looking-life-commun...