back to article Estonia pitches itself as the new Silicon place

Estonia is seeking to reinvent itself from a cheap place to source top-notch programming expertise into the Nordic* Silicon Valley and bio-tech centre. Around 25 start-ups rubbed shoulders with entrepreneurs from the US and the Nordic countries as well as investors at the recent Latitude59 conference in Estonia. On show were …

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Anonymous Coward

"it prefers to present itself as Nordic"

They're a lot like the Finns, only less friendly and more keen on alcohol. And they speak a crazy moon language.

What is rather more interesting is the gender ratio imbalance they have there...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "it prefers to present itself as Nordic"

What is rather more interesting is the gender ratio imbalance they have there...

Yup - although it's worth noting that there is a rather high percentage of world's models coming from that part of the world, all very tall as well. You may need to lay off the pizza for a while before you're able to work on redressing that balance, so to speak..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "it prefers to present itself as Nordic"

As a Finn I beg to disagree -- the Estonians easily best us introvert Finns in friendliness.

Yup, Estonia has to live with the consequences of the enforced Russification that took place in Soviet times...

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Paris Hilton

Didya know

That Andrei Tarkowski shot Stalker in Estonia, just off a chemical plant releasing mutagenic chemicals into the environment.

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Pint

Estonia is a cool country!

Ethnic Estonians are not descended from the Swedes or Finns; however, they are related to the Finns, and their languages are mutually intelligible to some degree. Their main claim to historical fame (other than being the first state victim of cyber warfare) is that they caused the breakup of the Soviet Union merely by gathering and singing in great song festivals.

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Re: Estonia is a cool country!

The 'mere' gathering that is claimed (by the estonian tour guide) to have set it off consisted of most of the ethnic Estonian population in one amphitheatre. Not the the USSR was falling apart anyway...

There's some nice (and surprisingly large) castles there from the Teutonic Knights' occupation and good restaurants in the old city, along with a very well preserved city block from the medieval Tallinn :)

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Re: Estonia is a cool country!

Well, they sang themselves to Independence with the help of Latvia and Lithuania. The Baltic Way - 2 million people holding hands to protest The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact - crossed all three countries.

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Happy

Languages

"they are related to the Finns, and their languages are mutually intelligible to some degree."

As a Finn I can say the mutual intelligibility is mainly a rich source for misunderstandings and jokes. Estonian often uses a different word for something which is close in meaning for Finns, but amusing or weird. Like Estonian "arvutusmasin" = "calculator", but for us Finns it sounds like a "riddle-asking machine". It's perhaps like the relationship between English and German...

Anyway, Estonia is the only foreign country a Finn can travel to and expect to be understood in his/her own language. Many Estonians can speak near-perfect Finnish, especially around Tallinn, for economic reasons (lot's of Finns going there for cheap booze), and because in the Soviet times, Estonians could watch Finnish television and see a glimpse of what life is like on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

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Revisionism

"Estonia is seeking to reinvent itself from a cheap place to source top-notch programming expertise into the Nordic Silicon Valley and bio-tech centre."

That's not the only thing they're trying to reinvent.

They're also trying to reinvent their recent history. The country was brought to its knees in 2007 by simple DDoS attacks. Only possible because they're so reliant on the web in their highly automated economy. Nothing to see here, they now say, move along please.

Francis Maude was taken to Estonia by ex-Guardian man, Mike Bracken, to have a peek at the future. Let's hope he also had a little peek at the past, http://www.dmossesq.com/2012/05/francis-maude-seeks-future-in-estonia.html

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Revisionism

It is widely accepted that the DDoS attacks in 2007 were far from simple, possibly with state intervention, as a response to moving the statue of a soldier from the town centre to the military cemetary on the edge of town. These events are beyond dispute, so what are you saying they are trying to re-invent? If anything they have turned lemons into lemonade, as the people who delt with this attack sell their skills globally so that it can't happen again.

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Re: Revisionism

It is common to belittle DDoS attacks. Bruce Scneier compares them to a crack group of commandos invading a country and imposing their rule by barging to the head of the queue in the post office. I am glad you agree with me that DDoS attacks can be serious but that is not the common judgement.

In the Guardian article referred to, http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/apr/15/estonia-ussr-shadow-internet-titan, we find the following:

QUOTE

"This is how a lot of myths were created," remembered Pärgmäe. "Those outside the country couldn't access Estonian websites, but they didn't realise that people inside still could."

UNQUOTE

You and I agree about the gravity of the DDoS attack but Katrin Pärgmäe, who is in charge of public awareness at RIA, the country's internet authority, treats it as a myth. That looks to me like revisionism.

Why? Why would anyone want to lie about the facts of this case?

Because governments all over the world including our own want to "transform" public services by delivering them over the web and only over the web.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Revisionism

Try reding the paragraphs before and after the one you quoted. Or better yet, base your comments on more than one article.

Pärgmäe refers to the rumours that the banks had collapsed as a myth, not the attack itself. In the article cited it is stated that the disruption lasted several weeks, but was minimised by limiting traffic into /from the country. I know from personal exerience that there were problems, but nothing major - it was still possible to do banking (slower than normal, but faster than in the UK), send mail etc.

So what revisionism are you referring to?

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Re: Revisionism

Now you're doing it: "I know from personal exerience that there were problems, but nothing major". Make your mind up. Was it serious or wasn't it?

Guardian Technology blog, 25 January 2008, 'That cyberwarfare by Russia on Estonia? It was one kid.. in Estonia', http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2008/jan/25/thatcyberwarfarebyrussiaon

Journal of Strategic Studies, 24 February 2012, 'Cyber War Will Not Take Place': "... unlike a naval blockade, the mere ‘blockade’ of websites is not violent, not even potentially; unlike a naval blockade, the DDoS attack was not instrumentally tied to a tactical objective, but an act of undirected protest; and unlike ships blocking the way, the pings remained anonymous, without political backing ...", http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01402390.2011.608939

Guardian Technology blog, 24 August 2007, 'Kevin Poulsen on Estonia's cyberwar': "Earlier this year, there was a lot of kerfuffle about a so-called cyberwar which struck Estonia's government - our European correspondent Ian Traynor reported the details, and it became big news on the web ... The tale has got the Wired treatment, prompting former hacker Kevin Poulsen to write a really interesting and detailed blog post on Wired.com explaining why thinks the story is overbaked ... Essentially his point is that Estonia (one of the world's most wired economies) took a bit of a beating, but the effects were overplayed thanks to overdramatic government response. The Estonia attack wasn't sophisticated, and cyberwar has already been with us for a while, he suggests ...", http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2007/aug/24/kevinpoulseno

That'll have to do to be going on with.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Revisionism

Within the country, for day-to-day activity it wasn't serious. As a diplomatic incident, and for external connectivity it was. Clear enough?

I'm not sure what point you are trying to make. In your original post you claimed that the Estonian government was trying to deny the cyberattack, and the reference you gave certainly doesn't support this theory. Your new references still don't support this.

Lets agree to differ, as the original article was about the dynamic culture in Estonia creating new technology and opportunities. It isn't just hot air either, and it is refressing that it should get such balanced coverage in The Register.

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Re: Revisionism

My point, to repeat, is that here in the UK we are being driven towards cloud computing and public services which are digital by default and which rely on an undeliverable identity assurance when we know from the experience of Estonia and others that the dangers involved are serious and unsolved.

In order to allay any fear of those dangers, the seriousness of the Estonian debacle of 2007 and of other cyber-failures are consistently downplayed – revisionism.

We are looking here at a wilful re-run of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, http://www.dmossesq.com/2012/04/amazon-google-facebook-et-al-latter-day.html

It is refreshing that this should get such balanced coverage in The Register.

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Nice place

It's a nice place to be but surprisingly expensive. The language is not "THAT" difficult one you realize prepositions are thin on the ground and it uses cases. Those who have drunk in Tallinn will no doubt know Nimega and Nimeta, the bars with and without names respectively!

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Joke

Re: Nice place

Origins of the language: http://jukeware.com/estonian.html

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nordic-schmordic

My fellow countrymen, who keep claiming that Estonia is a Nordic country, always crack me up. It's Eastern Europe - just face it:)

Estonian.

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I'm sure Eastern Europe & the Baltic states are lovely places

...but I just keep getting an image of indulgent millionaires tucking into my leg with a knife and fork.... or am I just watching too many low budget movies.

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Trollface

Re: I'm sure Eastern Europe & the Baltic states are lovely places

So you're saying Eastern Europe is full of wealthy zombies? Vampires, sure. Werewolves, probably. Beer, beer, beer, beer (and spam), too! Zombies, though?

Tere, dude.

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