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Uprising in Egypt: New protests, old tech

Uprising in Egypt: New protests, old tech

The fax machine is relevant again. (Remember that image above, from the 1999 movie "Office Space", where disgruntled workers obliterated their fax machine.)

For days now, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets to protest Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule. Mubarak's government has responded by essentially shutting down the country's Internet infrastructure. The government has put pressure on independent television media (i.e. Al Jazeera) to cut off their broadcasting, with only minimal success.

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Egyptians appear to be finding ways to spread words and images to the outside world. Twitter, Facebook and Youtube -- just search for "Cairo" and "protests" to see many videos uploaded over the past week.

Mobile phones apparently are still able to be used, but the Mubarak government reportedly has cut off text-messaging access. So how are Egyptians communicating with each other and sharing their views and images with the outside world? Here's a short list:

* Dial-up modems: With DSL connectivity down, people are turning to their old dial-up modems and calling international numbers to get access to the outside world, although access at a snail's pace.

* Ham radios: frequencies for Egyptians are being shared across the Internet. Morse code apparently has been in use by ham radio operators.

* Fax machines: apparently, the good ol' fax machine has been dusted off and used as a communication tool, according to the BBC and HuffPost. People are faxing information to phone numbers that automatically upload documents to the Internet, through coordination by We Rebuild, an Internet activist group.

* Twitter by phone call: Google and Twitter partnered to create a tool that allows people to call a number and leave an audio message, which then automatically gets tweeted with the hashtag #egypt.

* Television is, in some ways, "old tech," but it's still an unparalleled, awesome mass medium with arguably the biggest reach. Egyptian state tv has been generally broadcasting scenes of calm and of Mubarak with his new cabinet. But it seems such placid images only further irritates the protestors. For people outside Egypt, Al Jazeera has been the go-to network for 24/7 coverage. The satellite news channel isn't available in the U.S. (except in a handful of places) but it's easy to access it's English channel through its Website's live feed and its very awesome iPhone app, which is free. Kudos to the Al Jazeera correspondents across Egypt for defying government orders and continuing to broadcast and use social media to get news out around the world.

What other old tech tools and methods are Egyptians using to spread the news of their revolt against Mubarak's rule?

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