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Friday 18 Aug 2017 | 18:52 | SYDNEY
Friday 18 Aug 2017 | 18:52 | SYDNEY

World wide webs

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18 February 2008 09:19

Today we launch Lowy Institute Paper 22, World wide webs: Diasporas and the international system, in which I argue that diasporas are getting larger, thicker and stronger, with significant implications for global economics, politics and security. I have summarised different elements of my case in the Financial Times last Friday and in the Sydney Morning Herald today.

One new dimension of diasporas – one that’s very appropriate for discussion in a blog – is the electronic one. The revolution in transport and communications technologies is quickening the pace of diasporans’ interactions with their homelands.

Connectedness has grown exponentially, as the telegraph, press, radio, television and transcontinental telephony has given way to computers, satellite television, the Internet, email, blogs, internet telephony, video-sharing sites such as YouTube, and social networking communities such as Facebook and MySpace. Expats can use these technologies to keep up with news at home, maintain the currency of their networks, remit income to relatives, arrange marriages, and do long-distance business deals. They can spend their weekends and evenings in narrowcast, watching TV from their homeland in their mother tongue. When I was a graduate student in the UK, I read the Australian newspapers each day before anyone at home had even woken up.

Transnational activities have always taken place, but the new communications technologies – along with demographic and geopolitical factors – are transforming their intensity and scope.

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