Skyrock image analysis: Color as a main signifier of national/cultural belonging

In June the Digital Methods Initiative was invited to attend a workshop devoted to numerical methods in research on migration in Paris, organized by The ICT-Migration program, in collaboration with the University of California (Santa Cruz). Together with Matthieu Renault and other colleagues we did a small project on image representation used on one of France’s largest blogging and social networking site Skyrock ((#14 website (across all categories) in Traffic Rank in France according to Alexa.)).

Research question

What is the imagery of the diaspora on the French blogging/social networking site Skyrock?


  1. query Google Images for the top three immigrant groups in France ((Source: Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques)): Algeria, Portugal and Marocco Query for country name and nationality (male/female): algerie, algérien, algérienneportugal, portugais, portugaise maroc, marocain, marocaine within, eg: algerie site:*
  2. download top 100 images with DownThemAll.
  3. count and categorize images:
    flag, map, love and pride, ethnic, social/people, sports, other
  4. scale images according to size



Country flags (often associated with images of love and pride) are very important in the imagery displayed on the Skyrock network profiles for all three countries and their nationalities. There is, however, a crucial gender difference between women and men. Women seem to favor “social” images (especially self-portrait avatars) and ethnic representations (food, dresses, traditional clothing) over flags. For men sport images play an important role in the imagery displayed on their profiles, except for Moroccan men. This can be explained by the fact that the analysis was done during the World Cup 2010 in which Morocco did not participate. Many images mix the above stated categories, for example flag & love/pride, sport & love/pride, flag & social. In this case, colors representing the country are crucial. The colors of the flags play a unification/identification role in such a way that color could be considered here as the main signifier of national/cultural belonging.

Wiki project page.

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