The Washington Times - February 1, 2011, 09:46AM

One of the great things about the Internet — unless you’re the now-former authoritarian ruler of Tunisia — is that it democratizes information and brings people together. The on-again-off-again nature of the Internet in Egypt is a good example of how communication can work, as well as what can happen when “Big Brother” steps in and cuts access.

Asli Bilgin, one of the most talented people I’ve ever met at Microsoft Corp., is sharing on her blog some comments from Microsoft employees and the firm’s partners who are in Egypt. It’s quite fascinating; here are three examples:

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“After days of terror, this is an unbelievable feeling – we are witnessing our freedom. Normally I am good with words, but today I am speechless.”

“Fortunately, 30 of us our able to gather in my home. The police are nowhere to be seen. Everyone has to fight for his family for his building and his street. Today I went the streets. They are burning. Egypt is burning. The museums are burning. However, in light of this, we are all united as one country. We are not going to leave our country, if we are going to die we will die here. I don’t want to leave my memories.”

“It is our liberation – out of years of dictatorship. There is a future for Egypt.”

Ms. Bilgin is to be commended for sharing these (and other comments), and all the bloggers who are shedding light on the developing situation in Egypt deserve the world’s praise for their efforts, at least in my opinion.

UPDATE, Tuesday afternoon: Ms. Bilgin has posted another entry, received from engineer Mohammed Saad in Cairo, that is nothing short of poetic. An excerpt:

There is not one blood that contains us all

In Egypt we come from many walks of life

For the first time we are standing by each other

And it is an epidemic

Again, the power of the Internet to relay messages and help them “go viral” is something remarkable, isn’t it?

(This might be as good a place as any to note that The Washington Times has reported on the growth of Egypt’s technology sector long before the current political developments. For a bit of background, see this report from July 2009.)