same-day service = S = samurai

samizdat /sahm-iz-daht/ n.

[Russian, literally "self publishing"] The process of disseminating documentation via underground channels. Originally referred to underground duplication and distribution of banned books in the Soviet Union; now refers by obvious extension to any less-than-official promulgation of textual material, esp. rare, obsolete, or never-formally-published computer documentation. Samizdat is obviously much easier when one has access to high-bandwidth networks and high-quality laser printers. Note that samizdat is properly used only with respect to documents which contain needed information (see also hacker ethic) but which are for some reason otherwise unavailable, but not in the context of documents which are available through normal channels, for which unauthorized duplication would be unethical copyright violation. See Lions Book for a historical example.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

Samizdat books are a piece of Russian tradition that became huge in the Soviet Union under Khrushchev and Brezhnev's regimes. In Soviet Commmunism, during and after Stalin, art and academics were tightly controlled by the State. If something did not help further or glorify the Revolution and all that it stood for (what it stood for was obviously a very subjective issue), then it was not acceptable for public consumption. As a result, many artists and intellectuals saw their works suppressed, or were themselves imprisoned or killed.

However, publishing a samizdat book was a way in which unacceptable ideas could be published. Typically, the author would give his/her work to a friend with a typewriter who, using carbon paper, would type up the work up (piling paper/carbon paper upon paper/carbon paper and pressing really hard on the keys), then sew it together into a crude binding. These books, particularly in the 1960s, found an easy way to be disseminated through many of the social circles in Soviet society who would get together and read these hand published books. When a person was done with the book, he or she would simply pass it on to another friend to read and enjoy it.

Many famous books came out of the samizdat tradition. Doctor Zhivago was published in this fashion and was smuggled out of the USSR where it was published for general consumption and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1958. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and the Gulag Archipelago were also published as samizdat as well. Solzhenitsyn's resulting publishing of the book in West was the final straw that had him forcibly removed from the Soviet Union (where he later returned as a crack-pot ultra nationalist later on :).

The Soviet government, during Khruschev's regime, was rather lenient to these forms of self-expression. Brezhnev attempted to curb these forms of dissent, but was unsuccessful in the end. The use of samizdat was one of the many ways that Russians bucked the totalitarian state in which they lived.

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