Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Speak2Tweet: Like messages in bottles launched into an electronic ocean by the citizens of Egypt

The Million Man March has started in Cairo, and I've been listening -- unfiltered -- to one of the most extraordinary things I've ever heard -- a succession of voice messages from ordinary Egyptian people on Speak2Tweet the Google/Twitter voicemail service using ordinary land lines for a people deprived of their internet service.

These aren't the voices of journalists, government officials or other intermediaries. These are the voices of ordinary people, most speaking in Arabic, a few in English. Click on these links and you'll hear the voices of people caught up in a great popular uprising. Even if you don't understand the language, the emotion comes through. It's almost like a direct connection with the soul of Egypt in its time of hope and turmoil.

There's also a blog, Speak2Tweet Translate, where volunteer translators are translating as many of these messages as they can, as quickly as possible. Just one example:
Hello I’m Egyptian
And I’m calling out to every human being on this planet.
We are not the only ones who need to take this guilty one to trial, this killer, the entire world needs to because he is killing the people. Because we are all people, we are all human beings, the entire world needs to judge him. The entire world needs to. The people need to because he is killing the people.
He kills the people. i beg you all to judge him
Link to play message
The voicemails are like messages in bottles launched into an electronic ocean by the citizens of Egypt at this incredible time in the history of their country and the entire Middle East. Thanks to a functioning internet outside Egypt, we are able to pick them up as they wash ashore and to experience directly some of the emotions of this incredible time.

The link also promises to keep one more line of communication open as a workaround while virtually everything else gets shut down by the Egyptian government. Thank you Google and twitter!

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