It used to be easier: Close the borders, set up roadblocks, stop the trains, cut telephone lines, and then crack down on your people with impunity. This is what the military in the former Burma did when it crushed a pro-democracy uprising in 1988.

Last week, when the generals began attacking Buddhist monks and their supporters in the streets of Myanmar, they discovered that the world had changed. People were watching.

The junta had come face to face with a revolution in the technology of resistance in which a guerrilla army of citizen reporters was transmitting videos, photographs and news reports over the Internet even as events were unfolding.

The images made their way onto television screens and into newspapers and the world was flooded with scenes of tens of thousands of red-robed monks in the streets and of chaos and violence as the junta stamped out the biggest popular uprising in two decades.

The old technology of guns and clubs had been ensnared by the immediacy of electronic communication in a way the world had never seen.

”For those of us who study the history of communication technology, this is of equal importance to the telegraph, which was the first medium that separated communications and transportation,” said Frank Moretti, executive director of the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning in New York.

And this is only the beginning of the revolution, said Mitchell Stephens, a journalism professor at New York University and the author of ”A History of News.”

”There are fewer and fewer events that we don’t have film images of. The world is filled with Zapruders,” he said, referring to Abraham Zapruder, an onlooker who was the one person who filmed the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963.

On Sept. 22, when monks gathered at the gate of the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who had not been seen in public for four years, one of them held up a mobile telephone camera and captured her image behind the shaved heads of the men in front of him. Last week, when a soldier shot and killed a Japanese video journalist, Kenji Nagai, someone high in a building filmed the scene.

And then, in one of the most heavily censored countries in the world, people found ways to get these words and pictures out.

They sent SMS text messages and e-mails and posted daily blogs, according to some of the exile groups that received their messages. They posted notices on Facebook, the online social networking Web site. They sent tiny messages on e-cards. They updated the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

They also used Internet versions of ”pigeons” – the couriers reporters used in the past to carry out film and news – handing their material to embassies or nongovernmental organizations that had access to satellite connections.

Just as important, these images and reports were broadcast back into Myanmar by foreign radio and television stations, informing and connecting a public that receives only propaganda reports from its government.

And then, on Friday, the flow of images stopped.

”Burma is blacked out!” wrote a blogger called Dathana, who had been one source of information for the outside world. It was the last message he sent.

Using technology in as heavy-handed a way as it had used truncheons, the junta simply closed down the nation’s two Internet providers.

In keeping with the country’s self-imposed isolation over the past half-century, it cut itself off from the virtual world just as it had from the world at large.

Most overseas cellphone communications and land lines were severed or hampered as well, and soldiers on the streets confiscated cameras and video-telephones.

”Finally they realized that this was their biggest enemy, and they took it down,” said Aung Zaw, editor of an exile magazine called Irrawaddy whose Web site has been a leading source of news over the past weeks.

His Web site has been attacked by a virus whose timing raises the possibility that the military government has a few skilled hackers in its ranks.

At the same time, the junta turned to the oldest tactic of all to shut off information – fear.

Local journalists and people caught transmitting information or using cameras are being threatened and arrested, exile organizations said.

In one final, hurried telephone call, Aung Zaw said, one of his longtime sources said goodbye.

”We have done enough,” he said the source told him. ”We can no longer move around, it is over to you, we cannot do anything anymore. We are down. We are hunted by soldiers, we are down.”

And yet in the battle for the soul of their country and for the support of the world, the junta is losing even as it wins, said Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project and an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley.

”By shutting down the Internet they show themselves to be in the wrong, that they have something to hide,” he said. ”On this front, even a closed-down blog is a powerful blog. Even silence on the Internet is a powerful message.”

China’s problems are of a different order of magnitude, he said, as a huge, sophisticated nation seeks to balance the openness its economy needs with the control its government demands. It could not consider cutting itself off as Myanmar has done, and so control of the Internet is an industry in itself.

”In China it’s massive,” he said. ”There’s surveillance and intimidation, there’s legal regulation and there is commercial leverage to force private Internet companies to self-censor themselves. And there is what we call the Great Firewall, which blocks hundreds of thousands of Web sites outside of China.”

But even a country as isolated as Myanmar, he said, cannot live in the modern world without the Internet. The tourism industry, foreign investors, businesses of all kinds depend on it. And when, inevitably, connections are restored, the junta’s opponents will be connected to the world again.

The challenge of amateur reporting is quality as well as technology, said Vincent Brossel, head of the Asian section of the press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders.

”Rumors are the worst enemy of independent journalism,” he said. ”Already we are hearing so many strange things. So if you have no flow of information and the spread of rumors in a country that is using propaganda – that’s it. You are destroying the story, and day by day it goes down.”

The technological advance on the streets of Myanmar is the latest in a long history of revolutions in the transmission of news, from the sailing ship to the telegraph to international telephone lines and the telex machine to computers and satellite telephones.

”Today every citizen is a war correspondent,” said Phillip Knightley, the author of ”The First Casualty,” a classic history of war reporting that begins with letters from soldiers in Crimea in the 1850s and ends with the ”living room war” in Vietnam in the 1970s, when people could watch a war on television for the first time.

”Mobile phones with video of broadcast quality have made it possible for anyone to report a war,” he wrote in an e-mail. ”You just have to be there.”