By Ken Chester, Founder, CultureMesh
For over two decades, the diasporic Internet experience has mostly consisted of a multitude of web forums.
While these forums have proven useful to a great number of people, there was never a unified platform to tie together the burgeoning web of diaspora websites; in fact, separate websites exist for nearly every combination of national origin and current location. Whether taking a road trip, moving to a new city, or connecting with multiple diasporas in the same city, all of these actions had required signing up for an entirely new website.
However, after spending my college years immersed within Michigan State University’s soaring international student population, and launching a refugee education non-profit shortly after graduation, I became keenly aware that change was long overdue. To put these plans into action, I became a member of the intra-national “Michigan diaspora” and drove to Silicon Valley to build CultureMesh – the first social networking platform to connect all the world’s diasporas.
Last week, my team and I introduced CultureMesh to the world by mailing the UN representatives of nearly every country on earth. Now, as we release the site in public beta, I’d also like to invite you and your communities to join us at www.culturemesh.com!
To use CultureMesh, you’ll start with two simple search bars: on the left, you’ll enter your origin location or language, and on the right, you’ll enter your current location. After clicking “search,” you’ll be presented with several diaspora networks that you can join (or “launch,” if you’re the first person to arrive). You can anonymously browse within any diaspora community, or log in if you wish to post or reply to others. Furthermore, if many places feel like home, you can join or launch as many diaspora networks as you like!
Besides being able to connect with any diaspora, at any location on the globe, the launch of CultureMesh provides several new functionalities that had not previously been available to diasporas on the web. For instance, our network structure allows the launch of diaspora networks of varying geographic hierarchies; not only can you have a network of Mexican nationals in New York, but you can have networks of “Oaxacans in New York” or “Zacatecans in New York,” following the structure of real-world Hometown Associations (HTAs) that are widespread across the United States. You can also narrow down larger diasporas by features such as language, whereby “Chinese in LA” could be broken down into “Shanghainese speakers in LA,” “Hokkien/Taiwanese speakers in LA,” and so on.
With just a few clicks of the mouse or taps on a smartphone screen, CultureMesh fosters increased engagement with the amazingly diverse networks of people in our communities!
Not only do we believe that CultureMesh can connect people in new and exciting ways, but we believe it can save lives! During an emergency, community organizations and government agencies can use CultureMesh to immediately communicate with local diaspora networks, removing the need to register for dozens of web forums or browse for relevant Facebook groups when time is of the essence.
To learn more about CultureMesh and how it can help connect your community, please check out our website, or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.