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Dossier 03/03/2014

E-diaspora - How to view a community of migrants on the internet

The e-diaspora study is designed to render a complete mapping of migrant communities comprehensible. However, unlike conventional maps, these do not represent real but rather virtual territory, in the form of forums, blogs, associations or community media sites.

A unique experiment in the world of research, this study makes it possible to view the pure data resulting from 8,000 sites, and the networks which they form for about thirty communities, via elegant graphs

Insofar as a map of an e-diaspora can be read on several levels, its is not easy for the uninitiated to decipher. To understand them, you need to know that the e-diaspora is composed of a corpus of websites from a selection of work chosen by the researchers. These sites can be classified according to two categories: either as a site run by migrants or whose subject concerns migrants (blog, institutional site, association homepage), or as a site that does not belong to the diaspora but retains strong links with it. Most of the time, social networks or websites such as YouTube are excluded from the corpus. Each site is automatically analysed by a robot which determines what other sites lead to the links. In the end, the corpus forms a complex web.

These maps can then be explored according to different themes. If the orientation of the map has no interest, the notions of centre and periphery must be observed. Thus, certain sites seem isolated towards the edge of the map, while others form so-called clusters, i.e. a grouping of strongly connected sites. These clusters can then take several forms which inform the researcher of the presence of an online community. If the shape of the map resembles a cobweb, it is a community; if the cluster looks like a star, you can also identify the presence of a hub, i.e. a central site which is connected to many other sites, but which does not really form an inter-connected network. Other categories exist like bridge sites, which make the bridge between two clusters or authority sites, which have many inbound links.

Once the exploration of the map is carried out, the researchers study the contents of the sites in order to clear several problems from the existing links between states of origin and the diasporas, to the various forms of migrant mobilization or to the emergence of new groups, which were not revealed before the advent of the web. Everyone is invited to discover these new kinds of maps by consulting the site Happy Exploring!

> The e-Diasporas Atlas - concept


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