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Thanks for posting that provocative essay. I had seen a critique of the charity infomercials that are shown frequently on some channels here in the US. The documentarian/director was shooting the charity representative and the little child from the (barrio, refugee camp, remote village). As he began to shoot he called, "More flies!!"

Even though I was aware of this kind of manipulation, the stories in these ads (sometimes an hour long) can be well told and convinced me that this Christian group was doing some good, that the executive director of the NGO really believed in what they were doing, and that it was better than the inaction or inability of the national government to provide a similar kind of assistance.

The way telcom/computing projects are portrayed shows the limits of expressing what really goes on in an effective ICT project: think about all the photos you have seen and how limited is the subject matter.

It's usually users at computers in different variation: smiling kids crowded around one machine; some exotic tribal group gazing at or using the computer; situated in a thatched hut a young person helping an older person; a whole family bonding in front of the screen; some celebrity or bigwig (Gates in a South African township) at the machine, surrounded by locals.

My favorite was the shot of a villager in India with his sick chicken held in front of the webcam so the vet could make a remote diagnosis of the animal's illness.

Many of the photos are set up in hopes of publicizing the project. A friend worked on wireless connectivity in Mongolia, and they made sure to hitch some horses up outside the technology center to remind the outsider that this project was a blend of the traditional Mongolian culture and advanced tech.

What is hard to convey through photos, white papers, and statistics are the changes going on in the minds of the people who have engaged and made useful links to people or information.