BBtv WORLD: Through the eyes of the pueblo. (Guatemala)

Watch this episode in Flash above, or download here: MP4 link.

BBtv WORLD is our recently-launched series on Boing Boing tv featuring first-person views of life around the globe. This third episode in our series is the last of a three-part report I filed from a K'iche Maya community in Guatemala.

Few foreigners come to this village at 10,000 feet in the highlands. Most glimpses we have of remote indigenous communities like this are through the lenses of outsiders -- like myself. But how better to see their story than through the eyes of the people themselves?

Before I left the US for this pueblo a few weeks ago, we asked two companies that produce small, inexpensive, USB camcorders -- Pure Digital (makers of the Flip) and RCA (makers of the Small Wonder) -- to donate a few devices. I brought them to the village, so that some of the adults and young people here could explore what is possible with the tools of video storytelling in their own hands.

Today's BBtv WORLD is the result: stories shot by the K'iche people in this village. The world they see around them, through their own eyes and in their own language.

Some of what the children shot really surprised me. They caught on right away, faster even than the adults, and quickly taught each other how to record and play back video. Some of them seemed to transform into instant YouTube stars -- new alter-egos showed up out of nowhere. One boy we'd come to know as quiet and well-mannered over the course of many previous visits here shot himself throwing gang signs against the sunlight, like shadow puppets, while he walked a path that leads to a Mayan altar. Another girl who was very shy with us in person recorded video of herself making outrageous silly faces, and speaking in a boisterous, confident voice to her new handheld lens.

When I downloaded the footage from their devices, I felt as if I were seeing this place, and these people, for the first time.

Previous BBtv WORLD episodes:

Sponsorship note: The BBtv crew wishes to thank Microsoft for underwriting this episode, and generously supporting the launch of the "BBtv World" series. In this ongoing video series, we will be looking at the intersection of social causes & technology around the world from a number of perspectives. Through their new "i’m Initiative," Microsoft shares a portion of the program's advertising revenue with some of the world’s most important social causes when users email or IM with tools such as Windows Live™ Messenger and Windows Live Hotmail®. For more information, visit or


  1. Cuando Don Victoriano explico su felicidad por contar con la camara para poder usarla utilmente casi se me cae una lagrima..
    Lo que estas haciendo Xeni es muy importante.. gracias :)

    When Don Victoriano explain his happiness to have the camera for use usefulness I almost dropped a tear .. What you are doing is very important Xeni .. thanks :)

  2. @Agent 86 thank you so much. Most of the video shot by the people in the pueblo involves people speaking only K’iche, and we did not end up having access to a K’iche speaker during the final production stages for this episode, so we left those bits of ambient dialogue un-subtitled. Maybe we’ll go back and do that, though, and for sure we’ll want to next time.

    @elgrupolimon, le agradezco mucho; on behalf of the whole BBtv crew thank you for watching it and we’re so glad you found it of value, as we did.

  3. Longtime reader / feed / twitter follower, this the first time I’ve had a chance to actually watch an episode of bbTV, world or otherwise. It’s great to not only see their lives from their own perspective, but to see how technology becoming cheaper and more accessible can, as Don Victoriano explains, increase representation and information distribution to areas and people previously isolated and cut off.

    Kudos, and now I’m hooked. :)

  4. Really enjoyed watching the video, look forward to many more.

    Also one thing, would have been pretty cool if you had taken a couple of handheld Nintendo DS consoles with games for the kids to see and play :)

  5. @#5 shaun_scotland, heh! So, we did bring down a few XO laptops (One Laptop Per Child), and while that is not solely a gaming device — it did end up being used that way by some of the kids!

    @#6 DaveBonta, wow, I hadn’t heard of this group before. thank you so much for posting that.

    @all, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, and I will pass them on to the team here, and the folks in the pueblo, too.

  6. Another great episode.

    Xeni Tu voz cuando hablas español suena más dulce que cuando hablas inglés ;)

  7. To All:

    This piece was very personal for us, and it was a joy to make. Thank you to everyone for watching- it truly means a lot to Xeni and all of us! More to come!

    Derek Bledsoe
    Segment Producer, BBtv

  8. I’ve been looking for that power strip for WEEKS.

    But seriously, jaw dropping piece. If we are to remain in touch with the rest of the world after oil, when we cannot travel personally to learn about their cultures, this sort of gadget, and this sort of piece is going to be how it will be done.

    The doctors notion about the power of this technology in conflict and disaster is brilliant.

  9. APPLAUSE! Really beautiful piece. And I could watch a whole clip of just that band playing!

    Eventually, when there are a slew of BBtv World pieces in the archives, it would fantastic to have a map/globe interface to navigate them to get a sense of the similarities (and differences) of people across the planet.

    Great job, BBtv colleagues!

  10. ive seen 900 ads for the “im talkathon” and still had no idea what the hell it was.

    So microsoft is going to deprive children of technology if i dont use windows live messenger now! awesome :/

  11. @#13 Pesco, you sure make the whole crew over here in the 310 feel proud. Thank you. :) And I can’t wait for us to produce more of these, with more voices in more places, and sketch out ideas like the one you just articulated to make all of the resulting work more “explorable.”

  12. That was gorgeous. The people are so beautiful. I love the colors and patterns of their clothes, their vibrant music, the fluid sound of their language, and how kids are universally silly in front of cameras. :) You’ve really done a great service by posting these episodes.
    Question: is there any way we viewers can support these people? Is there any fund or project to which donations could be made? I know I would chip in a few dollars.

  13. This is great, and very interesting. Yet it made me think/feel that cameras are not a culturally neutral technology. In the shots that were taken by the kids, one sees the same self-consciousness amongst community members that one would were a Western journalist behind the camera. The camera records in a specific way, creating the illusion of accuracy while excluding context; it sets the recorder apart, as one who observes and analyses but does not necessarily participate; it turns those observed into a product.

    (Good choice of captcha. Why not allow OpenID logins? I just don’t like having hundreds of accounts all over the place. Not so anonymous: David Le Page,

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