Egypt's Web 2.0 Uprising Today: Let's Play Our Part

So, as we are witnessing history unfold aided by the web 2.0 I had to write this blog right with its news outlet cut off in Egypt, Al Jazeera is urging the country's citizens to use blogs, social media, eyewitness accounts, and videos to show the world what's going as they protests against President Hosni Mubarak. Today Egyptian protesters are gathering for a massive rally in Cairo as they step up their efforts to force President Hosni Mubarak from power. Organisers say they hope one million will come on to the streets in what is expected to be the biggest show yet.

Yesterday, the Arab news network's Cairo office was shut down and its broadcast signal cut off to some parts of the Middle East following complaints by Egyptian authorities that Al Jazeera's 24-hour coverage of the protests was slanted and could incite more unrest. Along with the office's closure, six of its journalists were briefly taken into custody before being released today, February 1. However, their camera equipment has been seized by the Egyptian military, according to Al Jazeera.

On Sunday, Al Jazeera expressed "disappointment" of the blockage of its broadcast signal and said today following the arrests of its journalists that "If anything, our resolve to get the story has increased." So far, Al Jazeera said it has been able to maintain coverage of the situation in Egypt with fixed-position cameras and news reports by phone. Al Jazeera has been one of many news networks and outlets trying to provide live video coverage of the wave of protests against the Egyptian government. However, this effort and the efforts of the Egyptian people trying to spread the word through web 2.0 and social media have been thwarted by the government's shutdown of the internet and other lines of communication.

Google and Twitter to the rescue! Together, they have launched a web 2.0 service to allow people in Egypt to send Twitter messages by leaving a voicemail on a specific number after the last internet service provider in the country saw was cut off on Monday. The new service, which has been created by co-ordination between the two internet companies, uses Google's speech-to-text recognition service to automatically translate a message left on the number, which will be sent out on Twitter with the "#egypt" hashtag.

This web 2.0 technology, I hope will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this time. Google listed three phone numbers for people to call to use the service. They are: +16504194196; +390662207294; and +97316199855. No web 2.0 internet connection is required. That will be important for users after Noor Group, which had been the last internet service provider connected to the outside world, went out on Monday. It had remained online after the country's four main internet providers – Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt and Etisalat Misr – abruptly stopped shuttling internet traffic into and out of the country last Friday. Please forward this blog on and support the people who want change in their country.

Photo Credit: Takver