Excerpt: Genre Connectivity and Genre Drift in a Web of Genres

Genre Connectivity and Genre Drift in a Web of Genres

by Lennart Björneborn

In: Genres on the Web Computational Models and Empirical Studies
Alexander Mehler, Serge Sharoff and Marina Santini
Text, Speech and Language Technology
Volume 42, 2011, DOI: 10.1007/978-90-481-9178-9


The chapter outlines an exploratory empirical investigation of genre connectivity in an academic web space, i.e., how web page genres are connected by links. The data set contained source and target pages on shortest link paths between different topical domains at UK universities. The pages were categorized into 9 institutional and 8 personal genre classes (bundled genre categories). Most frequent genre pairs were institutional link lists linking to institutional homepages and personal link lists linking to personal publications. Some genres function as “hook” genres being outlink-prone (e.g. link lists) and some as inlink-prone “lug” genres (e.g. institutional homepages). A genre network graph is used to discuss web spaces as webs of genres with genre drift and topic drift, i.e., changes in page genres and page topics along link paths. Complementarities of genre drift and topic drift may affect small-world properties in the shape of short link distances between different topical clusters in academic web spaces.

1 Introduction

The World-Wide Web may be conceived as a web of genres; a network of different web page genres connected by links. The chapter outlines an exploratory empirical investigation of genre connectivity in an academic web space. The investigation formed part of a webometric1 study concerned with what types of web links, web pages and web sites function as cross-topic connectors affecting so-called small-world phenomena in the shape of short link distances along link paths connecting different topical domains in an academic web space. To the author?s knowledge, this is one of the first studies to include genre connectivity on the Web. Most links within and between web sites connect web pages with similar topics leading to topically clustered aggregations of interlinked web pages and web sites. At the same time, some links connect different topical clusters. Such crosstopic links – and web page genres containing cross-topic links – were in focus in the study outlined in this chapter as they function as small-world shortcuts between different web clusters. Small-world theory stems from research in social network analysis on short distances between two arbitrary persons through intermediate chains of acquaintances in social networks. Watts & Strogatz revived small-world theory by introducing a small-world network model characterized by a combination of highly clustered network nodes and short average path lengths between arbitrary pairs of network nodes. Subsequent research has revealed small-world properties in a large variety of networks, including biochemical, neural, ecological, technical, social, economical, and informational networks. For example, scientific collaboration networks, citation networks and semantic networks have small-world features. Containing both high local clusterization and short global separation, smallworld networks simultaneously have small local and small global distances that facilitate high efficiency in disseminating information, ideas, contacts, signals, energy, viruses, etc., both on a local and global scale in the concerned networks. On the web, small-world link structures affect reachability structures, that is, how web users and web crawlers may reach and retrieve web resources when following links from web page to web page – from genre to genre.  [Continue reading excerpts here or download PDF from here]

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