Here are some comments to challenges you found important. From my viewpoint there are two main challenges, internal communication and web-presence, but I tried to combine and comment others as well. It was interesting to read your thoughts. I would leave it to Teemu, Andrea and perhaps you all to decide, which challenges you concentrate, but I hope this helps!
1. Internal communication – sence of community amongst activists.
At the moment, our internal/activism communication methods reflect the structure of the organization: IS–>Office–>groups. Most of the information is filtered at the office and then we a) share information, b) collect feedback and c)make new plans based on feedback. The sence of community is not created online, but mostly in groups and f2f-meetings. It works, but I think it´s not the most efficient way, because the information flow is centralized to IS and our office and for example sharing good ideas and experiences amongst activists is slow (of course it eventually happens via our office). We have been aware of some problems in this, but in order to keep our IT-development and structure in control we decided to start by first creating a platform and prioritized:
a) sharing info,
b) making sure we don’t loose any information,
c) finding a flexible technical platform for future development of intra and
d) providing groups a tool for their own internal communication.
This phase is now done, although we still have some technical/usability problems.
2. Amnesty´s presence in Finnish web.
Traditionally and at the moment, Amnesty´s presence in old media is very good. Especially in western world Amnesty´s reports and statements are almost always published as such in most newspapers, TV and radio. Earlier, Amnesty´s role in media was mainly to provide reliable and independent human rights information, but in past two years here in Finland we have also been able to get local papers etc. to tell these things through our local activists and their work. This reflects our two-edged role: we are:
a) a source for independent and reliable information valued by media and governments and
b) an organization that campaigns against these human rights violations together with a large audience and our activists.
This good media coverage of course has side-effects in web. Also we have been doing some short-time-web projects with our ad-agency with nice results, but these projects always take some money and we can do these once or twice a year.
Could social and more interactive web be a solution to create attractive and continuous web presence for Amnesty?
I think it´s important to understand even a simple human rights violation can be a very complex combination of international law, agreements, history, detailed description on this particular case etc. (this explains why Amnesty reports are often quite long…) As you might remember from Petri´s presentation Amnesty-activists KNOW and FEEL that they are doing the right thing and they don’t question Amnesty´s viewpoints but at the same time they find it difficult to explain that to non-Amnesty-people. I don´t know for sure, but I think these things are connected: Amnesty is reliable, because it HAS to be in order to make people active. All the information we publish isn´t there only for people to read, it´s there to make activism possible. Do you get my point? Making people tell about their Amnesty-experiences in web, debating and working there would be a good way to “open” Amnesty-world but at the same time it a) creates a different discourse potentially opposite to the “most reliable human rights organization” and b) forces our activist to be experts on human rights and represent Amnesty in web. These are some reasons why we have been quite careful in web and also separated internal communication from open web. This combined with our limited resources in e-world is the reason why our organization in Finnish web perhaps seems quite monolithic, static and centralized.
We are publishing our new amnesty.fi –page in April/May and I´m trying some new things there anyway. The page will provide Finnish RSS-feeds for example and I´m sure this simple thing will get us out from our own amnesty.fi-domain to other pages, blogs etc. (Good news-service for example might work well!) Also I´m at the moment testing WordPress MU as a platform to give some activist a possibility to keep their blogs (Closely linked but visually separated from amnesty.fi-page). In addition to this, our activists will be able to publish their own material in the page easily and in this way I hope to create a more dynamic page.