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Digital Diasporas

Webometrics
BBC Hindi Link Analysis
BBC Urdu Link Analysis

This theme explores 'digital diasporas' at the BBC World Service (BBC WS). According to research conducted within this project over 50% of the users of the 32 online foreign language sites are used by diasporic groups living outside the target region. These users prove to be highly relevant not only to our understanding of how technologies are changing audience configurations but also to our knowledge of how diasporic groups who share a language can form communication and social networks that traverse geographical, national and political boundaries with unintended and unforeseen political and cultural consequences. The online discussion forums of these language sites provide a useful focal point of enquiry to evaluate whether and how it might be possible for the BBC WS to achieve its goal of facilitating 'a global conversation' or whether the same kinds of inequalities and divisions in the real world are replicated in virtual worlds. We aim to offer a measured assessment of the empowering potential of new media.

Using web-analytics, interviews, pop-up surveys, and online community methodologies this research has focused on digital diasporas using the BBC WS Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Chinese websites and forums.

Research questions

  1. Spatial dimensions: where are users coming from in geographical terms?
  2. Social characteristics: who are they, demographic factors?
  3. Use value: why the websites are used and valued or not?

Theme convenor

Matilda Andersson, The Open University, m.andersson@open.ac.uk