Happy New Year to you all. The Documentalist has been on a bit of a hiatus with the winter holidays, but here we are in a new year and what better way to kick it off than to introduce a newly launched resource at the Center for Research Libraries-Global Resources Network (CRL-GRN) designed to support research in human rights: The Topic Guide in Human Rights. As you can see in the above image, the topic guide exists at the CRL-GRN Website and points to a number of useful sources accessed through the pink topic tabs pictured. The “Landscape” provides an overview to the issues confronting human rights documentation and archiving endeavors (you will also find a link to our Human Rights Electronic Evidence Study under this tab), while the “CRL Collections” tab takes users to a sample of the variety of holdings CRL maintains related to human rights. Finally, the “Related Resources” tab presents a number of on-line resources related specifically to archiving digitally produced materials in human rights–a topic of on-going research here at CRL. There are also a variety of other links to explore within the topic guide, so please visit and learn more about what CRL has to offer in the area of human rights.
The International Thesaurus of Refugee Terminology (ITRT) is designed to facilitate information retrieval and exchange. In print since 1988, the Thesaurus has proven an essential resource for librarians and information workers. However, the specialized nature of and ongoing evolution in refugee terminology meant that the print editions were soon outdated. In 2002, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Library and Forced Migration Online (FMO) began discussing how to create a web-based version of the Thesaurus that would be more responsive to the needs of its users.
The Thesaurus is now available as an interactive and searchable tool online, in English, French and Spanish. The editors hope that this new version will serve as a more efficient medium for identifying relevant indexing terminology and as a value-added mechanism for managing refugee- and forced migration-related information.
This on-line resource should be an important tool for organizations seeking to categorize and catalog refugee cases as they are documented.
As part of the Human Rights Electronic Evidence Study at CRL, we have been revamping our project Webpage to incorporate a variety of materials and resources. A key feature of the Webpage is a series of Human Rights Resources Profiles, of which there are currently two (you will have to scroll down to the bottom of the Webpage to find the links). More will be coming as our research progresses! These profiles take a close look at different approaches that human rights groups take to digital archiving, as well as different archiving tools that are available to help practitioners establish their own digital archiving practices. At this point, we have profiled the Web Ecology Project (WEP–also see an early blog post here) and WITNESS. WEP offers a method for capturing and archiving ephemeral digital reports represented in Twitter tweets, while the WITNESS profile describes an integrated system for training activists in digital documentation and a model for archiving digital materials for human rights work. Please visit the site and see how the project is progressing!
Movements.org is a Website maintained by the Alliance for Youth Movements (AYM), a “non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, connecting, and supporting digital activists from around the world.” The organization hosts a number of conferences and events around the world with an eye toward linking leaders in the technology industry with some of the world’s most influential digital activists (see About AYM for a more detailed discussion). As stated in the mission statement:
Through the use of new technologies, grassroots activists have more capacity than ever to make change in their communities. Yet wired social movements continue to grapple with the challenges of scaling and sustaining themselves over time. The Alliance for Youth Movements (AYM) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping grassroots activists to build their capacity and make a greater impact on the world.
As part of it’s awareness-building effort, AYM maintains a blog at movements.org that covers recent developments and events related to digital activism. A subsection of that blog, called “Networked Activism, ” is dedicated to the role of digital technology and social media in activism. Recent posts consider the impact of Facebook’s recent revamp on the platform’s use for activism, the emergence of group texting as a mobile app, and digital activism in Egypt, just to name a few topics. This Website offers a wealth of information for digital activism and is a good resource for helping activists to establish or enhance digital tools in their efforts. It is well worth a read.
Today, during my web crawling endeavors, I ran across the site for Causecast, a space created specifically for a variety of social cause groups–including human rights organizations–to network and share media. The site features video footage presented by member groups and organized under the broad categories of Animlas, Arts, Enviornment, Health, and Human Rights. As the two text quotes below demonstrate, Causecast is a tech start up company that seeks to create awareness of and attract financial support to serious non-profit initiatives in the areas listed. The site also offers links to resources for becoming a volunteer with organizations or community actions that you support. –Sarah
What is Causecast?
We are a newly-launched technology startup that aims to drastically increase online giving by providing cause-based knowledge, tools and social connections in a fun, rewarding environment. Located in sunny Santa Monica, CA, Causecast promises to be the first sustainable online platform for change.
It’s a startup environment, so you’re joining a team of passionate people who are “all hands in” to continue growing this exciting company! The job requires dedication and hard work, and extended evening hours will be necessary from time to time. We work hard and we play hard, and we’re looking for the same from our applicants! (from Job Opportunities at Causecast)
Who is Causecast?
Causecast, dubbed “a one stop philanthropy shop” by TechCrunch, is a platform where media, philanthropy, social networking, entertainment and education converge to serve a greater purpose.
People want to do good, want to be inspired, and want to inspire others to join them in giving back. Causecast makes this easy by providing users with means to CONNECT with people, leaders, charities, nonprofit organizations, and brands that inspire them. (from Who We Are at Causecast)
MobileActive’s “Ultimate Go-To Resource on Mobile Data Collection”
MobileActive.org has releasedits “Ultimate Go-To Resource on Mobile Data Collection”. The organization has complied a multi-tabbed on-line spreadsheet available here that pulls together all sorts of information concerning the resources themselves, the organizations that created them, and the purposes they serve. The plan is to update this spreadsheet as folks at MobileActive learn of new resources. It is well worth a look!
Resource Guides for Digital #activism
Via John Postill’s blog media/anthropology, we have a list he pulled from a course syllabus he found focusing on on-line tools for supporting digital activism:
Cyberspace Ethnography: Political Activism and the Internet
ANTH 498C/SOCI 498D ADVANCED TOPICS IN ANTHROPOLOGY/SOCIOLOGY
Dr. Maximilian C. Forte, Concordia University, Winter 2010
Mr. Postill’s post lists several links to a variety on-line resources drawn from the course cited above. One of them is the “Quick ‘n Easy Guide to online advocacy” published by the Tactical Technology Collective. This introductory guide shows newbies in digital activism how to take advantage of existing Web resources to get a short-term campaign up and running with little or no cost.
However, The “Quick ‘n Easy Guide” raises one very important caveat–“They [the cited on-line resources] require a broadband connection and are not recommended for dial-up connections.” This is a perennial challenge to on-line advocacy outside of the “developed” world–though the on-line resources themselves are free or cost very little, access to them can be prohibitively expensive. As the field of digital activism continues to grow, we need to constantly think about this problem and devise ways of ensuring that the people who need access to these tools the most can get a hold of them, as they are often prevented from using them because of financial barriers.
In the article “The Technology for Transparency Review, Part 1” posted on Global Voices Online on March 2, 2010, David Sasaki reviews a number of recent efforts to highlight how various groups are making use of on-line activism, social media, and other digital resources to document human rights issues and generate a wider sphere of activism. The article is dense with links to resources and reviews of their efficacy and is part of a larger initiative by Global Voices Online called the “Technology for Transparency Network” (tag line: “tracking civic engagement technology worldwide). As stated on their webpage:
The Technology for Transparency Network is a participatory research mapping [initiative] intended to gain a better understanding of the current state of online technology projects that increase transparency, government accountability, and civic engagement in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, South Asia, China, and Central & Eastern Europe. The project is co-funded by Open Society Institute’s Information Program and Omidyar Network’s Media, Markets & Transparency initiative, and aims to inform both programs’ future investments toward transparency, accountability, and civic engagement technology projects.
The project, which is a collaboration with Global Voices’ outreach program Rising Voices, serves as a reaction to economic and political changes in mainstream media that have compromised the ability of reporters to engage in deeply investigative reporting that serves as a check on corrupt officials, business people, and politicians. Quoting David Simon’s observations about the current vacuum in investigative journalism, “it is going to be one of the great times to be a corrupt politician.” Thus the need to understand and capitalize on the tools that are gaining power and influence within the investigative world. In order to accomplish this work, the Technology for Transparency Network has assembled a team of veteran Global Voices Online reporters and leading transparency activists from around the world who work together to “We will document in-depth as many technology for transparency projects as possible to gain a better understanding of their current impact, obstacles, and future potential.”
The results of this work will be a series of case studies, podcasts, and a traditional .pdf report that will be released in May. This report will highlight:
…the most innovative and effective tools and tactics related to technology for transparency projects. The report will make recommendations to funders, activists, NGOs, and government officials regarding the current obstacles to effectively applying technology to improve transparency, accountability, and civic engagement. It will also aggregate and evaluate the best ideas and strategies to overcome those obstacles.
Case studies are plotted on a map and to date, have been conducted in Kenya, Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, India, Jordan, Mexico, Malaysia and Zimbabwe. The page also offers updates on on-going projects and links to other mapping and monitoring projects. For a more detailed discussion of all of these efforts see David Sasaki’s article published January 19, 2010.