Monday, November 15, 2010

The world is tiny

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century came out about five years ago. The author, Thomas Friedman, makes the point that technology has leveled the playing field. It used to be that if you wanted to compete in a town, state, or country, you had to be physically located there. It was hard, or impossible, to help with the design of some new product and live some where else.

Technology has changed all this. Many businesses have moved substantial parts of their companies to India and China because the internet allows much easier communication. I'm currently working with a group in Shanghai. It has its problems, and it would be easier to walk down the hall to discuss issues, but given that my company can hire engineers in China for a fraction of the price here, there are valid business reasons for offshoring.

This weekend it hit me just how much technology is bringing the whole together.

A Different View from the Top of the World tells us that even the most remote parts of the world are coming on to the grid:

I've always thought Mount Everest was just OK. Sure, vaulting majestically out of the Earth more than 29,000 feet is impressive, but then what? Like many remote locales, Everest's natural "beauty" has been offset by a lack of conveniences. Until now.

Last week Ncell, a telecom company based in Nepal, announced that it had installed antennas at Everest's base camp that will let climbers make phone calls, video chat and surf the Web at the summit. Which begs the obvious question: what took so long? For years climbers have felt off the grid simply because they were more than five miles above sea level and could wave at passing airplanes. Well, that era is over. Now successful mountaineers can call their friends and family, post a celebratory video message to You Tube and add old-timey mustaches to pictures of the mountain. And just because they're struggling to stay alive at 70 below zero doesn't mean they can't keep up with the latest developments at the "wicked keggr @ Brody's house 2NITE!"

What an amazing world.

1 comment:

Homeschool Software Mom said...

I've heard that Everest base camp is a mess with all the trash left there. Perhaps a few more photos from those on-site will raise awareness toward cleaning it up.