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The Witness Hub (BETA): Presented by Witness




The Hub, a project of the international human rights organization, WITNESS , is "a global online platform for human rights media and action." The purpose of The Hub is to create a clearinghouse of human rights related media, in an effort to share stories, raise awareness and mobilize for change. One element of The Hub is The Hub Map, which allows visitors and contributors to visualize the extent and diversity of multimedia content, and to locate media and advocacy groups in particular regions.


The site is divided into three sections: "See It" , "Share It" , and "Take Action" . The multimedia section (See) contains visual and written materials, including photos, blogs and videos, which you can choose by issue or by region. The contribution section (Share) includes a blog with space for personal accounts, a group area to connect with like-minded activists, and a guide for uploading media. The "Action" section is where users may access the video advocacy toolkit (a WITNESS guide to filmmaking) and connect to campaigns and external human rights reports. On the main page, it is also possible to donate, sign up for an e-newsletter, join The Hub (to add content), or view The Hub Map, which tracks global activity of media uploads.


Users

  • The international span of the WITNESS Partner Network is the framework for the content. Individual human rights defenders and non-governmental organizations are free to upload video or photographic material.

  • Partners include large international organizations like Amnesty International , regional organizations like Fahamu in Africa and local organizations like Drishti in India.

  • Contributors include these partner organizations, who contribute raw or edited footage, as well as individuals who upload video independently.

  • Witness initiatives, such as online content creation guides and live training sessions for partners, allow for increased accessibility.

  • The Hub site was created by the WITNESS team video experts and human rights advocates, and is maintained by a team of volunteers from the WITNESS server. However, "WITNESS does not vouch for the veracity, accuracy or authenticity of any content uploaded on to the Hub".

  • Witness has created an international network of advocacy groups with their initial site, thus extending credibility to videos uploaded to this site.

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The Hub Map shows media uploads, local groups, events and campaigns for action.


The Hub Map


The Hub Map is an interactive Google Maps application embedded in the site to track
the location of video uploads, advocacy groups, campaigns and events occurring around
the world. Each marker represents an individual piece of media, and the interactive map
allows users to view the name of the upload, the name of the user who uploaded it and
when, the number of times viewed, and a user-generated rating score.




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Clicking on the media allows users to access the video, event, group or campaign, and will provide further information regarding the subject matter. Metadata on the media page connects users to additional content, related either regionally or by issue. Additionally, an RSS feed link allows users to subscribe to an issue for further updates.





Technology
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Media on the site is accompanied by text, cross-references, and metadata for a comprehensive understanding of the issue


The Hub (BETA) was built by CivicActions using Drupal, an open source content management platform. currently in beta, and plans are in place to enhance interactive elements, including:

  • Video Advocacy Toolkit

  • Discussions

  • Petitions

  • Downloadable videos

  • Interactive Maps -- A Google Maps application to map location and origin of media, but also to map groups and campaigns

  • Mobile version -- A Hub optimized for viewing on a cell phone

  • Direct cellphone-to-Hub uploads -- Users will be able to upload images or video from their cellphone to the Hub in seconds

  • Playlists -- Capacity to create playlists of human rights videos, resources, organizations and users on the Hub

  • New languages - Arabic, Chinese and Russian








Analysis

  • The Hub site is organized around an action-oriented strategy of information sharing. The three main sections urge engagement with the site's content; instead of "watching" online video, on The Hub participants see, share and act, mainly using new media technology.

  • The interactive Hub map allows users to better understand the impacts of human rights abuses by engaging with the mapping application and making accessible documentation of specific cases.

  • Accessibility to the Hub's features is improved by providing media creation aids, as well as simple instructions for uploading media. The simple user interface allows for a minimum of errors, but in developing countries, access to computers with high enough bandwidth for uploading video media may be problematic.
  • The expectation of users to exercise their own due diligence, fact-checking and verification processes raises questions of credibility.
  • The site's effectiveness can be measured quantitatively by looking at the number of times media has been viewed. The most viewed video has been "witnessed" 102,149 times, but the median viewing (out of 3000 uploaded videos) is 853 views. It is impossible to tell if the videos have been watched in entirety, or if their being watched resulted in any positive action.
  • The site is maintained by two full-time staff and a number of volunteers. The reliance on volunteer maintenance may make the future of the site tenuous or inconsistent, but the open interface allows for user investment in the project. It is a "community-driven, participatory website".

  • The mapping section of The Hub is a secondary element to the video advocacy network. It is a tool used for demarcating location of multimedia elements, but its low prominence on the site, limited integration into the other elements of the site flow and overall simplicity adds little value to an otherwise rich concept.

  • The site's structure allows users to search by issue, region, highest rated or most viewed subject. This cross-referencing of topics makes the more popular videos (ostensibly higher production value videos) more accessible, but the sheer number of uploads may create a 'babel' effect, where informative content is lost in the mass of information.
  • Creative Commons Licensing on the videos allows other sites to link to videos, reappropriating them for applicable situations and generating more widespread accessibility