MINELRES: Fwd: Human Rights Tools: Rightswire, blogs, and jobs in Geneva

minelres@lists.microlink.lv minelres@lists.microlink.lv
Fri Jan 12 08:57:12 2007

Original sender: Human Rights Tools <editors@humanrightstools.org>

This newsletter covers three topics:
1. Rightswire, the new social networking service for human rights
2. Human rights blogs - an update
3. Human rights jobs in Geneva


Dear readers,

We would like to share some good news with you: the human rights
community will soon have its own online social networking service,
thanks to the Rightswire project. It will be completely free of charge.

This project is still under development, however you are invited to help
shape its future services by filling in an online form. It's quite easy
and will not take you a long time:

What is online social networking, and what will it do for you? Simply
put, Rightswire will help you meet peers who share your professional
interests, from all over the world, and communicate with them easily -
people who you would simply never have been able to meet otherwise.

What are the features of an online social service? Well, there are three
that will be particularly relevant to us human rights people:

Profiles: members can use a number of fields to descibe their
professional interests and experience. They can then search these
profiles to find peers. For example, if you are preparing a training on
monitoring in Indonesia, you can use Rightswire to find project partners
or possible participants in this country. Or if you need advice on how
to organise a campaign, you can find and ask other members who have
described themselves as knowledgeable in this area. Recruiters also
increasingly head-hunt using social networks.

Of course, there are other social networks for business professionals,
like "Linked In" (see: http://www.linkedin.com). The problem is that
their profile descriptors are very business-oriented, with terms like
"marketing" and "engineering" - thanks to Rightswire, we will have
categories which really match what we do, such as the type of human
rights work we do (advocacy, monitoring, community awareness, etc) and
the type of rights we are interested in (rights of women, rights of
refugee, etc). So we can find each other better!

Groups: we will also be able to create or join virtual groups. For
example, your editor looks forward to joining or creating a group on
monitoring human rights violations, because he is interested in this
field. Others may want to create a group for the persons who attended a
particular training or seminar, so they can keep in touch easily and
share news.

Instant messaging and email: online social networks usually also provide
means to communicate with other. "So what", you will say, "we already
have email and Skype". Maybe so. But once all your colleagues, contacts
and friends will be on Rightswire, you will find yourself using the
built-in messages more and more because they are so convenient: you can
see who is online and chat immediately. In the student world, the social
network serviced called Facebook (see http://www.facebook.com) gives a
good example - more than 80% of the students in the United States
apparently now have a Facebook account, and use it as the primary means
of communication with each other. Do they still use normal email? Yes,
to write to their grandmothers...

The Rightswire project is being put together by Jeff Henigson, who took
a sabbatical from his job managing the GIS unit at Reliefweb, especially
to build it for us. Thanks Jeff, your efforts are really appreciated! We
can't wait to try Rightswire out! 

In the meantime, don't forget to do the survey:


In a previous issue, we announced that we were working on a special
section on our website bringing together human rights bloggers. Since
then, several bloggers contacted us, and we found quite a few more using
blog search engines.

We put them all on one convenient page, which to our knowledge is the
first comprehensive listing of human rights blogs:

This page has two columns:
- The left column lists all blogs in alphabetical order
- The right column lists the last 15 posts from all blogs - very easy
for you to check whats new!

While researching the blogs for this page, we made some quite
interesting observations:

first observation -- Human rights bloggers are a diverse group 
Some blogs are serious, others are sarcastic and cynical, yet others are
humorous. Some cover a particular country, some cover a theme, like
women's rights, the protection of the environment, racism or torture.
Some post every day or more, others once a week or less. Some write in
English, others in Arabic or Chinese, and Cehz Rémi even write in three
languages: English, French and Spanish! Altogether, they form a colorful
energetic community, and both fun and informative to read.

second observation -- Blogs are proportional to censorship
Have a look at the country-specific blogs that we found: a quick and
unscientific survey seems to indicate that the number of blogs is
proportional to the level of censorship. All of the countries for which
we found more than two blogs, are at the bottom of the Reporter Without
Borders press freedom index:
- we found two blogs for India, which scores 106th on the RWB index
- we found two blogs for Egypt, which scores 143th on the RWB index
- we found two blogs for China, which scores 159th on the RWB index
- we found two blogs for iran, which scores 164th on the RWB index

It is as if bloggers emerge as a counter-reaction to attacks against
mainstream media and human rights groups, as an elusive network of
guerilla-reporters which is very difficult for a repressive State to

The exception is Palestine: we found at least ten blogs about the human
rights situation there, and it's hard to classify as it's not listed on
the RWB index (although it does not seem to repressive against its press
or human rights defenders). 

third observation -- There don't seem to be that many human rights blogs
after all
According to Technorati, there are today no less than 55 million blogs.
And how many of these are human rights blogs? Well, we only found 55.
Yes, thats right, only 55 - this means one human rights blog in a
million is about human rights. 

Of course, we probably did not find all the blogs, although we looked
very hard: on Technorati (www.technorati.com) or Google Blogsearch
(blogsearch.google.com). And we did not list all we found, such as
inactive blogs or blogs that are mainly about international politics,
with only a passing reference to human rights.

Why are there so few human rights blogs? It's a pity, because in the
field of human rights, there is a lot to blog about. And today, blogging
is both free and easy (you can open a free account on bloggers.com or
wordpress.com in less than a minute).

Our impression is that too many of us could be excellent bloggers, but
simply don't realize it: we underestimate our value as providers of
information and commentary. If you are following the human rights
situation in a particular country or a particular human rights issue,
you can perform a valuable service by using a blog to report on what is
happening in this area and providing an independant opinion or local
perspective. Not everybody has the time or opportunity to follow your
topic as you do!

So... if you are a human rights blogger and are not yet listed on this
page, let us know, we will add your blog immediately! And if you are
planning to start a human rights blog - congratulations! Let us know as
well - we can help you get the word out.

Some useful links:
http://www.bloggers.com/ (free blogs)
http://wordpress.com/ (more free blogs)
http://www.rsf.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=542 (handbook for
(some really good
tips for beginners and fun to read)


If you would like to work in Geneva in the field of human rights, this
could be your lucky month! In our job section you will find announcement
for no less than 7 human rights vacancies! All the details here:

... and if you get one of these jobs, let us know and come to visit
(your editor works and lives in Geneva).

As usual, please share this email with friends and colleagues who share
your interest in
human rights - and social network and blogging in particular! 

Best regards, 
Daniel D'Esposito, editor

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