"The notion of the Internet as a force of political and social revolution is not a new one. As far back as the early 1990s, in the early days of the World Wide Web, there were technologists and writers arguing forcefully that the Internet was destined to become the most important tool for cultural change in human history. They were (mostly) right, but not for the reasons they believed; in retrospect, strident manifestos such as John Perry Barlow’s 1996 Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace seem almost preciously naive about the nature of power and participation online. The ability of the Internet to alter the course of nations and economies does not come from being independent of the material world, but from being deeply enmeshed in it."
"In fact, it turns out that the Internet is a rather brittle weapon of transformation. If the icon of revolution in the 20th century was the AK-47, for many observers the 21st century icon is the Internet-connected cameraphone. But the AK-47 is a stand-alone technology. The smartphone, conversely, is completely dependent upon a complex physical infrastructure—cellular towers, mobile network providers, the wires and routers behind it all, and more. Of course, this isn’t just a peculiar limitation of cell phones; every type of Internet technology requires an elaborate physical network in order to function. And as protestors from Tehran to San Francisco have discovered, such networks are easy to shut down"