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May 6, 2011

Sawing the Web: How the “New Media Revolution” Can Be Derailed the Old-Fashioned Way

Some weeks back, the BBC reported that a 75-year-old woman from Georgia managed to disrupt Internet service in the entire country.  She didn’t do so with a DDoS or an LOIC or any other sophisticated hacking tool, but with a plain old saw.  To supplement her pension, the woman scavenges for copper.  The cable didn’t mean a whole lot of difference for her, but it did mean the temporary paralysis of Internet services in Armenia.

Could it happen here?  Of course it can.  All it took to temporarily shut down the Internet for an entire nation was an old woman with a saw.  What more for an earthquake in Taiwan, or a scavenger in Manila, or someone who trips a wire in the United States?

If there’s anything this story could tell us, all the hype and hoopla about “new media revolutions” seem to be so “up there;” out of the reach of the majority of the world’s population who are not yet “wired.”  It’s often grounded on something abstract, like ideas and conversations, when that entire reality is grounded on a very vulnerable network of wires.

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