Jan. 31, 2011 at 7:29 PM ET
UPDATED - For those stuck in Egypt without the Internet, Google, Twitter and SayNow have teamed up to create an innovative voicemail system: Call a number and leave a message, and the system blasts it out into the universe in the form of a tweet with the hashtag #egypt.
You can see the whole river of messages, all hauntingly uniform and anonymous, on Twitter at @speak2tweet. When you click on one of the short links, you're taken to a page on SayNow that plays back a unique message. Go ahead and take a listen for yourself.
Since loved ones will basically have to listen to each and every message with the hope of hearing their own friends and family members inside Egypt, the system does seem a little inefficient. And besides, it seems that the Mubarak government is shutting off cell phone service in anticipation of tomorrow's demonstration, so it may be harder for many Egyptians to get to a phone. Still, as a helpless bystander, it's both a relief and a sorrow to hear these voices escaping from the all-consuming crisis.
UPDATE 1:40 a.m. ET Tuesday: Some more generous techies are helping translate all of the speak2tweet tweets, and posting them here at WordPress.
Some of the messages are heartbreaking: "I just wanted to say 'hi' to my brother and his wife since we didn’t get a chance to talk before they cut off the Internet." Others are hopeful: "I want to thank the army for the great message that they’ve sent to the Egyptians, in which they announced that they won’t resort to violence against the protestors." It really is a direct line to the eye of the storm.
UPDATE 5:40 p.m. ET Tuesday: More of the messages are hosted in audio and text on the site egypt.alive.in as well.
More on the crisis in Egypt from Technolog: