Interoperability: Should we build documentation tools that work together?


The idea of interoperability between tools has come up during all three Martus Community Calls, and in a few other threads in this forum. There are a number of existing tools that are being used for different stages and/or models of human rights documentation and investigation, including Check, Keep, Uwazi, OpenEvsys, Martus, ObscuraCam, OpenArchive, and others. We know that any one of these tools cannot be “the one tool to rule them all.”

With this in mind, some prompts to keep this discussion going:

  • Can and should we build human rights documentation tools so that they can work together?
  • Why is interoperability so important in our space? What problems would it address?
  • What are the downsides to widespread interoperability in the human rights tech space? What risks or challenges would it introduce to the field?
  • Are there existing or proposed “plumbing” standards (an API, a cryptographic standard, etc.) that the human rights technology development community ought to adopt and promote?
  • Consider the differences between more traditional data collection models (e.g. interviewing witnesses) and more modern or emerging ones (e.g. open source investigation and web-based curation). How can we build systems that enable organizations to use both models in the same documentation project?