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Peter Gabriel’s Web Portal to Human Rights

By Tom Watson on March 28, 2007No Comment

Rock star Peter Gabriel took the stage here early this morning to talk about uploading video to the Internet. But it wasn’t YouTube funnies or MySpace hijinks that was on the mind of this classic rocker – it was genocide in Darfur and sweatshops in New York City. Gabriel is the founder and chairman of Witness, which uses video and online technologies to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations, and he was here at Skoll with executive director Gillian Caldwell to introduce a new Witness program.

Witnes plans to launch TheHub this summer, which will be a distributed media platform for video about human rights abuses worldwide. It will accept uploaded video from anyone. A Wikipedia-like community of users will, in effect, rate the content for quality and accuracy. No log files will be record, thereby protecting users via anonymity – and keeping Witness itself free from subpoenas and government inquiry.

"We would like this to be the central destination for human rights related media, a central online repository," said Gabriel.

But Caldwell also added that TheHub would maintain an open platform, and license and dsitribute its content freely via RSS feeds and search. "We’re not in competition for an audience – we want to be partners with as many organizations as possible, including news organizations."

The organization, founded by Gabriel in 1992 and now based in Brooklyn, has a long history of spurring news coverage. According to its Website, "partner footage has appeared on major networks around the
world, including CNN, ABC, CBS, PBS, and BBC. It is carried by
satellite networks and film distribution companies and is frequently
featured in film festivals worldwide. Witness also organizes
like-minded coalitions to create powerful, wide-reaching campaigns.
This approach enables many of Witness’ videos to have an impact far
beyond the modest resources we can provide."

TheHub is due out of beta in August. Gillian Caldwell is also a blogger, and will be filing posts from Oxford.

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