Developments in the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) – Internet, mobile phones, digital databases – have deeply impacted migrant’s lives. The last ten years have seen the proliferation of websites, blogs, and social networks created by and for the different diasporas. Are these “e-diasporas” an extension of physical diasporas, or, merely, their mirror image? Are they source of new diaspora communities? Or are they, instead, an echo-chamber of globalization, of a society itself a diaspora in the making? These new communications and organization practices produce a vast moving e-corpus whose exploration, analysis, and archiving have never before been attempted.
The e-Diasporas Atlas was incubated and developed in the framework of the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme ICT-Migrations research program. Initiated and coordinated by Dana Diminescu, the project introduced digital methods into research on diasporas. This was made possible by the R&D innovations of Mathieu Jacomy and thanks to the technical coordination and training provided by Matthieu Renault.
The building of the e-diasporas Atlas relied on the conception of a digital methodological chain and the development of tools which aimed at mapping and analyzing the occupation of the web by diasporas. Such a chain was composed of four intertwined steps: 1) equipped web exploration and corpus building; 2) data enrichment (location, languages, textmining); 3) network visualization-manipulation and graph interpretation; 4) collaborative sharing of (raw) data and findings.
Researchers from diverse disciplines, laboratories and countries took part in the project. Several partners also contributed to its success: the Institut National de l'Audiovisuel, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique through its Migrinter laboratory, the Institut Mines-Telecom, Linkfluence and the design studio Incandescence. The e-Diasporas Atlas received funding from the Agence National de la Recherche (STIC Content and Interaction), the École d'ingénieurs Telecom ParisTech and the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme Paris.
The outcome of the efforts of more than 80 researchers and engineers worldwide, the e-Diasporas Atlas is the first of its kind, with some 8,000 websites archived and observed in their interactions. The variety of supports it offers – not only printed maps but also its own smartphone application and website – make it a truly unique venture. The international closing conference of the project (Homeland Connections: e-Diasporas Atlas/A Century of Transnationalism) took place at the Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration in Paris on May 23rd-25th 2012… but the adventure will soon continue.
Diminescu, D. (ed.) e-Diasporas Atlas. Exploration and Cartotaphy of Diasporas on Digital Networks. Paris: Édition de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, sept. 2012.
Diminescu, D. (ed.) Social Science Information [SSI], Diasporas on the web/Diasporas sur le web, 51/4, dec. 2012.
Website : www.e-diasporas.fr
Iphone application eDiasporas on ITunes