Small World News attended RightsCon in Manila last week. We presented a workshop titled ‘Creating a Network of Trainers and Storytellers’. Ours was one of dozens of workshops and demos by tech startups, developers, Internet rights groups and supportive governments and NGOs.

It was great to exchange ideas with so many smart people dedicated to a singular goal: expand and secure the information pipeline in the global fight for human rights. It was an especially cool event for us because StoryMaker V2 was released while we were there. It was also my coming out party as the interim director of Small World News. More on that later.

I left my first RightsCon with one clear take-away: the community of activists, citizen journalist, NGOs and developers works hard to talk about and coordinate its efforts. That's what events like RightsCon are all about. But, much remains to be done.

The space is young. Alliances, agreements, standards are only just starting to take shape. We all talk about the ideals of open source code, but in reality few conventions exist for how complex code is written, making it difficult to reuse.  We are all concerned with the chilling amount personal data collected by governments and corporations, but we need to be better synchronize ways to explore the data and pressure for clearer regulation.  There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of top-tier developers working on software aimed at extending reach and improving security, but their work could be better coordinated, especially to include input from end users.  

I just read ‘Move over citizen journalists: here comes a much smarter future’ on Medium by Stephen Khan. The better future, writes, Khan, is not siloed with journalists here, the tech community there and activists and citizen journalists somewhere else -- each with its own language and set of priorities. The better future is in combining efforts to let everyone work to their strengths.

It’s up to us to keep the dialogue alive now that all the techie gear has been backed and people have gone home.