This week I learned a hell of a lot about RightsCon, the world’s leading summit on human rights in the digital age.
I started the week with the goal of learning about what makes an effective RightsCon session. I managed to get to 15 sessions, one side group meetup and even ran (a very low attended) session. Subsequently, I got some incredible insights into how to transition an offline event into an online one.
Last year RightsCon took place as a live event in Tunis, and they had 3000 people attend. For this online event, they had close to 8,000. One thing I kept reflecting on as I listened to many moderators start their sessions by saying “I wish we could all be together in Costa Rica” about how privileged it is (was?) to be able to get on an aeroplane. By being online, RightsCon had widened its accessibility and global reach. People who would be unable to make a long haul or even a short-haul trip could attend. But then during an Human Rights Centred Design RightsCon side meetup, I got put into a small group breakout room with two other people who talked about how they couldn’t justify taking time off because there isn’t the opportunity to have side conversations, network and run into funders and colleagues that you wouldn’t usually have the chance to do. I realised that this raises the need for more significant interaction by participants within an online session and in smaller groups so the likelihood of having a more in-depth conversation with someone you have or have not met before – so that you still have the network/community-strengthening aspects.
Also can not downplay the enormous role that TechChange played at this years RightsCon. They set up the platform that brought the cohesion, but also every session had a tech moderator on hand who made sure it was all working, and did things like break people up into small groups, run polls, had a google doc for note-taking ready, etc. Everyone could concentrate on running and participating in the session rather than the tech.
Important to note: the only way anyone could get into a session, is they had to register for Rightscon and then access the session page five minutes before it started to get the link. Session organisers were given their link within an hour of the session and then had 15 minutes with the tech moderator to get everything sorted. OH and sessions HAD to end on time because the next session needed to use the online space of the previous session
During the Data for development: shaping future scenarios session, we hashed out a scenario where corporates dominate weak states. It seems to me that ‘for-profits’ have a much stronger ability to demonstrate value. In contrast, governments can be crap at it – and this is leading to lots of situations where people trust brands over their government. As less-ethical and corrupt leaders are leading developed countries, will corporates step up to ensure well being to citizenry? Yeah, I know… wishful thinking.
It was also lovely to see that it wasn’t all Zoom. The Help we are under attack! A peek into a community of rapid responders, session that used Big Blue Button: open Source, slightly clunky and you need your own server, but excellent that it gave participants the ability to choose a breakout room, rather than being assigned It would be nice if maybe people would start investing in further developing that, rather than giving money to Zoom.
BTW – next week I’m on holiday along with my weeknotes post.