First came Tunisia. Where it became clear how social networking and the internet as a whole gave people the platform to communicate without any interference or manipulation of their governments. This platform was a knife that cuts on both sides for them. The same time it was used to communicate between the protesters and coordinate their actions as well as a way for the protesters to get the news out and with that increase international pressure.
The Egyptian government quickly realised how platforms like Twitter and Facebook can work as a platform for the opposition, mainly consisting of students and young (often technically skilled) people. Shortly after the start of the protests, the Government quickly used its power to shut down ISP’s and mobile phone services like SMS.
Since governments shut down Internet providers and limit mobile phone traffic, they make international communication quite hard. Aside from using the low tech short-band radios, the protesters found several very smart ways to stay in touch on a local level [e.g.' the Nintendo DS short range protocol]. Also the tech companies, like Twitter found workarounds for these problems. A good example of this is the Speak2Tweet service Twitter put in place. People could use normal landlines and payphones to get their tweets out.
People are realising more and more that for a network to be independent, control of it should not lie in the hands of any (chosen or not) government or a government sponsored organisation. I also believe that this is going hand-in-hand with other means of control governments and organisations are trying to impose on the Internet, often trough national legislation. This includes initiatives like the Sinde-Law in Spain or the similar Hadopi law in France or the implementation of metered internet. If you add the whole Wiki-leaks soap-opera (referring to the way the US and other government have treated this subject) you are looking at an enormous group of technically savvy people who know what’s going on, know how to spread the word and eventually find ways to prevent anyone from controlling what is not theirs.
There are many ways to express discontent. Even though active participation of lot’s of people in attacks through Anonymous is getting a lot of coverage these days, there are also people who work on solutions to these problems, they are less known and get less coverage, but are not less effective.
I will use this post, which I will fix as a page in a bit, to collate all articles I find interesting or that have an added value around this topic. Stuff I write and think about or interesting projects other people are busy with, such as P2P DNS Systems or Tribbler, a decentralised torrent client.