Tag Archives: Social Network Sites

The Digital Basque Diaspora in Boise, Idaho…

By the early 1990s, the Internet became generally available to the public, and in 1994 the first Basque website, http://www.buber.net, was created in the diaspora by Blas Uberuaga who grew up in the Basque community of Boise, Idaho. In the homeland, for instance, the Basque Autonomous Community government established its first website in October 1996.


In 1997 the Basque club or euskal elkartea from Seattle, Washington, U.S., became the first Basque diaspora club ever to construct an online presence.  Seattle was soon followed by other clubs such as the Utah Basque Club from Salt Lake City, and the North American Basque Organizations (NABO) in 1998. In 1999, the Basque Museum and Cultural Center of Boise also established its own website. It became the first online representative of the Basque community of Boise.

Nearly 90% of the institutional websites (i.e., official sites of diaspora institutions) that comprise the Basque digital diaspora had been established in the new millennium. As of March 2009, the diaspora had formed 211 associations throughout twenty-four countries, of which 135 (or nearly 64%) had a presence in cyberspace in twenty countries (or over 83% of the total).

Basque community associations in Boise also became active and joined the Basque Museum and Cultural Center in cyberspace, while multiplying their online presence by combining different online platforms including blogs, websites, and social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This trend demonstrates a powerful potential for Basque diaspora expression online.

The Basque diaspora is utilizing the Web as a twenty-four-hour easy to use and inexpensive platform to communicate, interact, maintain identity, create and recreate social ties and networks to both their homelands and co-diaspora communities regardless of geographical distance and time zones due to the low cost, effectiveness, and speed of the Internet. Basque diaspora web sites, blogs and social network sites are platforms for communication, social interaction, and representation.

The majority of the Basque diaspora webmasters in the U.S. and throughout the world argue that the Internet has the potential to maintain Basque identity abroad in terms of information, interaction, and communication, while reconnecting individuals with their collective identity and with a larger global Basque community—homeland and diaspora.

In your opinion, what impact do the Internet and social network sites such as Facebook have on strengthening and maintaining Basque identity in the diaspora?


Life 2.0 after (Offline) Death

“Death 2.0,” “digital commemorative profiles,” “virtual cemeteries,” and “digital legacy in the Internet” are some of the most recurrent expressions that have been coined to deal with the emergent phenomenon of our “physical (offline) life” being survived by our “digital (online) life.” The array of implications (e.g., ethical and legal) that new technologies, particularly social network sites, have on our daily lives forced us (e.g., users, academic researchers and law scholars, hosting companies, and e-mail providers) to confront an unprecedented situation: What should (and can) we do with the “digital life” (e.g., e-mail accounts, social network site profiles, websites, online publications, photographs etc.) of our loved ones when they have passed away? How would be able to reach their online friends, communities and networks and let them know that their dear friend is no longer with us?

The death of a family member poses new dilemmas regarding issues such as privacy, confidentiality, ethical intromission and legality of accessing e-mail accounts and social networks profiles without not knowing his/her passwords to access such digital stores of information. Companies are reluctant to share any information without the explicit consent of the owner of the account. Who owns the rights of the digital content produced and freely shared and distributed by a person who just passed away?

20120807_205942(Photograph by Pedro J. Oiarzabal)

Back in October 2009, Facebook began to think along the same line, “What to do with the profiles of those who have died?” Their answer was to create “commemorative profiles” rather than erase the profiles, giving their online friends the opportunity to leave their thoughts and prays.

This phenomenon has created a tiny industry that manages your “digital life” after your death. After receiving an official notification of the death of one of their registered users (clients), companies such as SlightlyMorbid.com, LegacyLocker.com, GreatGoodbye.com, MyLastEmail.com, and DeathSwitch.com communicate the sad news to the deceased’s online friends and deals with their e-mail addresses and social network profiles following the instructions left by their clients. For instance, MyWonderfulLife.com offers users the possibility to store their last will in relation to the usage and ownership of their digital legacy (e.g., photographs, video, music, articles) stored in blogs, websites and social network sites.

Somehow related to this issue is the individual and collective production of Basque cyberculture. If anything, the Web is ephemeral. Consequently, there is an urgent need to protect and maintain our common global culture that has been produced in cyberspace since the invention of the Internet. What has been done to preserve our Basque homeland and diaspora digital legacies? Who should be in charge of creating digital archives to store the diverse cultural and linguistic aspects that constitute our online-based cultures? Let’s hear your ideas.