Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

As Egypt's Last Internet Connection Goes Down, Alternatives Appear

Even as the main Internet service providers in Egypt were shut down last week in a move to quell anti-government protests, one connection remained online: The Noor Group (usually found at www.noor.net). Its ties to various financial concerns and the local stock exchange gave it some political cover.

Now Noor is gone too, reports Renesys, the Internet intelligence research firm that has so closely followed the Egypt’s strange disappearance from the digital realm.

That has some Egyptians turning to spotty dial-up connections cobbled together by Internet activists, most of them in Europe. Telecomix, an organization that promotes Internet freedom, published a list of reliable numbers that Egyptians can call with their modems. The French Data Network reactivated a barely used but still perfectly functional bank of modems.

For those with functional fax machines, a German outfit called We Rebuild set up a fax-to-Internet service that allows Egyptians to send fax messages that can then be relayed as email messages or posts they can publish immediately.

Finally, some folks at Google, Twitter and SayNow, the phone service that Google acquired last week, hacked together a Speak-to-Tweet service for Egyptians to use: Call an international number, leave a voice message and it’s published on the Twitter account @speak2tweet. People in Egypt can hear the same messages by dialing the same numbers used to send the messages.

Here’s one message from an Egyptian woman speaking in English:


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work