Google, Twitter and the Blogosphere Keep Egypt Plugged In
For many of us, a day without Internet would be would be like a day without caffeine. We'd be a little bored, a little edgy, maybe even a little cranky. But we'd survive. Even without the Lolcats.
But for the citizens of Egypt, where Hosni Mubarak "unplugged" the Internet last week, the stakes are much higher. On a practical level, real-time information is critical for demonstrators, but also critical for anyone trying to stay safe and keep track of friends and relatives. And as the government clamps down on traditional journalists (they shut down Al Jazeera's Egypt bureau over the weekend), Egypt's bloggers, tweeters, and ordinary citizens want to make sure that the world bears witness to their struggle. As the Guardian reports, "innovative Egyptians are finding ways to overcome the block. They are relaying information by voice, exploiting small and unnoticed openings in the digital firewall, and dusting off old modems to tap foreign dial-up services.
In an amazing demonstration of the power of social networking, free-speech advocates around the world have galvanized to make sure that Egypt does not go entirely dark.
On Monday, Google announced a little piece of programming magic that should allow people in Egypt to Tweet without an Internet connection. "Like many people we’ve been glued to the news unfolding in Egypt and thinking of what we could do to help people on the ground," said a Google blog post Monday. "Over the weekend we came up with the idea of a speak-to-tweet service—the ability for anyone to tweet using just a voice connection."
By leaving a voice mail on one of three designated international numbers, people in Egypt will be creating an automatic Tweet with the hashtag #Egypt.Continued on the next page