You can blame Vietnam for the blog reviving.

I have been travelling and volunteering on environmental projects all over the country for the last three months. Instead of getting the urge out of my system, the experience just raises more questions about how to make the world a better place.

Let’s set one thing straight: I don’t see myself as some savior to the developing world. Every day I realize how little power I really have to effect change. One day the challenge is institutional barriers, another it is economic, and still another it’s a vast gap in culture that is impossible to surmount.

But, at the same time, I can’t help but think of all the small things that can be done. As a mechanical engineer (and fire bug), anytime I see smoke, I go check out what is causing it. So far, I have seen burning trash, cooking over wood fires, traditional brick-making, the torrefaction of rice hulls, and the drying of tea leaves. Every one of these processes has a simple mechanical tweak that can render it smoke-free and more efficient (usually one of the 3 T’s: Time, Turbulence, or Temperature). Why isn’t more being done? It seems like it would be so easy.

The stories of why it isn’t so easy will come later. For now, I just want to reveal what I think is possible. I believe there is a deep well of motivation in our generation to do things that are more meaningful. I think online networks and software tools will afford us new ways to manifest that motivation. However, I have a feeling that the approach is not going to come from what people traditionally think “technology” and “innovation” mean; I expect philosophy, history, and art to guide the conversation instead.

Kathy and I have decided to restart the blog that we kept during Imagine Cup in order to start making progress on the questions we have had since.

Kathy will come at things from a different perspective. She and I argued a lot during our time working together on Imagine Cup. However, we always ended up agreeing once we had stripped away our initial impressions and gotten to the heart of what we were trying to accomplish. It has been almost two years since our time in Cairo, and I can’t wait to see what new ideas we will explore.

 

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