A guest blog from Josephine Goube of new migrant tool, Sharehoods.
Technology has eased the logistical aspect of migration thanks to centuries of advancement in mapping systems, innovation in means of transport and communications. Most recently, the internet is driving the change; but which change? In this article Josephine Goube from Sharehoods analyses the move of migrants to a new country has been transformed by 10 years of ‘social’, ‘user generated’ internet, also called Web 2.0.
Immigration, EasyJet and Facebook: What’s up?
It is interesting to look at how the web 2.0 is transforming immigrants lives for 3 reasons.
First, the web 2.0, as any technological innovation, creates new behaviors and ways of understanding what immigration involves: moving to another country does not mean disconnecting one self from peers and social networks; Skype has made communication easy and constant. Online national newspaper are accessible to anyone wishing to participate in national debates, business or activities happening in the country of origin. Migrating is a way to change the administrative and landscapes; but no longer a complete cut from oneself roots and cultural identity.
Second, this web 2.0 is driven by the ‘user’. Like no other technological innovation in the past, the scale to which this tool has been made available to anyone and is shaped by the user implies that the web 2.0 can act as a powerful instrument of democratisation of immigration. The tools of change are in the hands of most of us. Call it empowerment, call it irresponsible: the web 2.0 was one major actor/tool of the Arab Spring, without a doubt.
Third, closely linked to the previous point: the web 2.0 knows very few rules except for its code and its use… which is being redefined at the very moment via innovations like HTML5 and the widespread use of mobile phones and tablets. We don’t surf the web, search for info and read the internet the same way on a computer, tablet or mobile phone. The way the information is retrieved and the way it is used will impact how individuals empower themselves. Imagine an immigrant with a smartphone translating all that he/she is being told upon arrival in a new country… this is revolutionary.
These 3 reasons make the web 2.0 so interesting to study in relation to immigration (respectively: 1. what behavioural change is it bringing? 2. To whom is it most accessible and used by? Does it disrupt class/gender and other cultural/societal hierarchies ? 3. To which extent our use affects daily lives?)
Still thinking Immigration is a boring topic?
Let me bring you the concrete questions the above theoretical points bring out:
- Can Facebook help migrants find accommodation in a new city – instead of going to a real estate agency or looking on classified websites?
- Can we measure the impact of Linkedin to find a job in the UK for a migrant and for a migrant to be found by a UK employer – and disrupt the whole ‘it is about who you know’?
- Can we report how many migrants have changed their decision from going to the UK to go to Canada instead based solely on forums and asking the diaspora living in both countries – before even moving?
- Would you feel comfortable moving to Australia or Bombay tomorrow – knowing that you have 2 friends on Facebook already there, Skype to call your family and already a list of employers related to your company on Linkedin?
Sharehoods is Curious about the Future trend of Immigration
Discovering ways the web 2.0 can be leveraged to provide access to untapped resources by migrants is Sharehoods’ main challenge and very aim.
So far, our data and surveys are demonstrating that factors like the origin country and degree are being challenged and tamed by a new generation of migrants across age, gender and class, armed of mobile and smart phones empowering them with geo-localised information, in their own language and based on crowd-sourced content. Eventually, it seems that more and more migrants are turning their back to the Western World, and looking other places to migrate to. But where? and why? Is the world turning into a map of job markets to compare – in migrants’ mind?
The pace at which cities are being mapped and information about anything/anyone being entered, stored and easy to retrieve – just think of GoogleStreetMap and now think of the latest Google projects making GoogleStreet become 3D and Google Goggles – might even make immigration not necessary anymore…. who knows?! Maybe you know and want to share it with us @Sharehoods
If you are passionate about innovation and Immigration matters, please share your opinions or get in touch @josephinegoube or @Sharehoods
Sharehoods a the young startup building the social platform for migrants to the UK to provide easy to understand “city-life” information and help on paralegal and visa documents to anyone thinking of moving to a different city or country, for free.