We live in very strange times: on the one hand the world has become a very small place and there are no longer any true terrestrial frontiers. This is the psychological foundation for the space program: we need frontiers or we begin to feel hemmed in like rats in a cage (“despite all my rage, I’m still just a rat in a cage”). We seem to need to expand our reach and explore new horizons and the earth is pretty well done in this regard.
But conversely, the world is still a very dangerous, unpredictable, uncontrollable place: we feel that we have control because our reach is so long do to modern communications, but ese of communication only gives the illusion of control, sometimes to tragic ends. Recall the heartbreaking cell phone calls from the doomed on 9/11, or the calls from Everest several years ago when experienced climbers were trapped by a storm and died, as detailed in Krakauer’s book below.
Now the world’s highest cybercafe is going up at the Everest base camp, extending the illusion of control a little further:
- The grandson of a Nepali sherpa in the first expedition to scale Mount Everest 50 years ago plans to set up the world’s highest Internet cafe at the mountain’s base camp.
Tsering Gyaltsen, whose grandfather, Gyaltsen Sherpa, was in the 1953 team that helped Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reach the 29,040 foot summit, hopes to open the cafe next month to cash in on a flood of visitors for the anniversary.
Thousands of trekkers and mountaineers pass through the base camp at 17,400 feet every year and many expeditions carry satellite phones into the Himalayas to run web sites about their efforts and contact friends and family at home.
Otherwise, the nearest phones are a four-day trek away.
Gyaltsen, waiting for government permission to go ahead, will use radio and satellite links and solar and generator power. [Reuters]