Office plankton: Low-level office clerks; drones. English translation of a Russian slang term.
Young, formerly apolitical Russian office workers have been galvanized by protests against the Putin government, the New York Times reported on December 24:
On Friday afternoon, Denis Terekhov gathered together his employees for an impromptu staff meeting.
They were workaholics in their 20s — “office plankton,” as they are sometimes called here — punchy from an apocalypse-themed office party, some headed for winter vacations in Egypt and Turkey. But Mr. Terekhov had another order of business. Watch yourself, he told them, if you choose to attend Saturday’s antigovernment protest.…
A mystery has been unfolding here over the past month, and office plankton are in the middle of it. A critical mass of young Russians decided this month that they had the power to alter the course of political events. They organized outside the channels of mainstream politics and took the country’s leadership by surprise, as other crowds have done this year in Israel, India, Spain and the United States.
Plankton are, of course, small or microscopic organisms that drift with the ocean currents—the bottom of the pelagic food chain. The plankton name was bestowed on these organisms in 1887 by a German physiologist, Viktor Hensen, who took it from a Greek word (planktos) that means “wandering, drifting.” (Planet, which means “wanderer,” is related etymologically.) Plankton is the plural form; the singular is plankter. Neither word is related to the 2011 Internet fad planking.
Office Plankton is the title of a series of short animated features originally posted on a Russian website, Toonguru, and uploaded to YouTube. The first episodes appear to have been posted in late 2008. The cartoons feature a chaotic office, a clueless boss, and large helpings of sexism and scatology.