All right. I need to know whether I'm being a hypocrite or an idiot. Here's the dilemma.

  1. I love to travel. Love love love to travel. If my job required me to be on the road 200 days a year, I would be thrilled. And I predict I'd be a sight more effective than if I had to stick around a single office. Anyone who's ever seen me at a conference can probably attest to this.
  2. I am a strong believer in grassroots and the power of tapping into local knowledge/skills/potential rather than importing outside people to swoop down from above and save the day.
  3. I've looked for - and am (slowly) starting to get - the opportunity to travel to other places to help out with local grassroots tech-ish stuff. Hacking, speaking, helping to organize things... fun and helpful things I love to do, and am getting pretty good at. Yay, opportunity!
  4. But wait. This is the opportunity to come in as an external "expert" to tell people about... how they don't need to bring in external experts.
  5. Does not compute.

In the past (a grand total of 2 times) I've gone with my gut reaction, which is "Of course I want to travel to cool places, meet cool people, and help out!" and hopped the plane. But is this more about "Mel traveling to cool places and meeting cool people under the guise of helping out," or would it be more helpful if I put my money where my mouth is, stayed in Boston, and
counter-offered to help out long-distance in building local capacity so
that someone from the area could speak/teach/present about it in my

Are these opportunities things I really should be looking for? If I really want to be as helpful as possible, what should I do? The classic phrasing: instead of spending $2k to fly to the Philippines and build a $1k house, wouldn't it be better to stay home and sponsor the construction of 3 houses? How do you figure out what's "more helpful," anyway? (Am I being dumb and deliberately reducing my effectiveness and opportunities in the name of moral righteousness? What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? Wibble.)

On a completely unrelated note, keepon, the cute yellow dancing robot, was originally designed for research on human social development. I didn't know that before; it definitely adds an awesome factor to the project. I'm also increasingly convinced that I need to study manufacturing.