4.3 Some perspective on the relative importance of people and computers

Computers and statistics are powerful tools, and in the future, they are likely to become ever more important in human rights work. This reality notwithstanding, human rights organization leaders should never lose sight of the fact that computers only focus the immense and inescapable work people do to collect, classify, and analyze information in the research process. To return to the steps in an information management system suggested in this handbook, organizations should focus on the people-based parts of the process; the computer-based parts are much easier to establish. Thus in planning a large scale human rights data collection process, we need to plan first for the people and skills necessary to get the work done, and only secondly worry about the computers and software needed actually to do the work.

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