The events in Egypt over the past 10 days are historic, memerizing, scary, uplifting (insert your adjective here). Much has been written about the impact of social media on the ability for protesters to organize and participate in the uprising in such large numbers.
Indeed, the Mubarak government even took the amazing step of actually shutting down the Internet across the entire country. However, much like a cortisone shot may ease pain but does not fix the bulging disk in a back, Egypt has proven that shutting down the Internet and social media may ease the pain for some time (just hours in today's fast-paced world) but it does not eliminate the underlying malady.
Perhaps most importantly, the shutting of the Internet appears to have made the Mubarak government even more vulnerable. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says that Egypt's Internet shut down cost the country's economy more than $90 million, accounting for roughly 3-4 percent of economic output, resulting in a loss of $18 million per day for the Egyptian economy. Those esimates may appear to be an understatment as further calculations have valued the economic impact at more than $110 million.
Moreover, the shutting down of the Internet did not stop communication among protesters. Google, for instance, created a voice-to-tweet service that allowed Egyptians to leave voicemail messages that were turned into tweets. Other Internet services allowed streaming audio clips from young Egyptians to be heard from anywhere on the world.
So, in a story with many morals, the Egyptian government has proven that technological innovation and communication in 2011 cannot be thwarted with a simple on/off switch. But, maybe even more importantly, as the OECD study proved, the government is just as dependent on the Internet as its citizens.
An Internet shut down may have cut Mubarak's nose off to spite his face.