The world is flat, or so we are told -- but thankfully the Internet is a system of tubes that helps us stay in touch. On that note, one obvious application for social networking is bringing together ethnic or regional diasporas, either by piggybacking on big social networks like Facebook or through dedicated social networks designed just for them.
That’s the idea behind Parranda, a social network for Puerto Ricans (including those still living on the island and those who have moved away), which officially launches on Christmas Eve. The network was started by a group of 18 Puerto Rican businesspeople, scientists, and Internet geeks (one co-founder, Giovanni Rodriguez, has advised the White House on social media campaigns) who noticed the lack of an online, 21st-century means of bringing Puerto Ricans together despite geographic distance. In good social fashion, Parranda is designed to integrate with other social networks including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
While many diasporas in history have been involuntary, nowadays most migration to the U.S. tends to be voluntary -- and it can be just as damaging to home countries, which suffer “brain drain” as the best and brightest leave for opportunities elsewhere. With this in mind, Parranda’s founders say part of the network’s mission is keeping expat Puerto Ricans in touch with the home island, so they can learn more about, and contribute to solving, persistent social problems -- including high crime rates and unemployment.
Another co-founder, Marcos Polanco, told ABC News: “We have to get out and escape from those failing structures. And that's the opportunity that social media provides us.” Thus the network will eventually grow to include an online mentoring program and a crowd-funding platform for projects to improve life on the island.