Around the world, lots of researches and scholars belonging to a wide range of disciplines are trying to provide answers to these and to many other questions. Aristotle suggested the first genre classification scheme by dividing literature into Tragedy, Comedy and Lyrics (well, I am oversimplifying…). Aristotle smoothly classified all the knowledge of his time, so arguably classifying genres was probably a minor task for him. But it was indeed easier in the IV b. C. to suggest a genre taxonomy than it is today with our daily exponential growth of the web, of social networks and with a sparkling technology that encourages massive textual production.
Texts and documents are not randomly created. They reflect the conventions of human communication in a certain time and in certain community. Genres help us formalize these conventions. Since conventions change over time, genres are not static either. They change according to cultural, social and technological advances…
Genre can be observed from many different perspectives. Some academic communities are more interested than others in studying the concept of genre of written/web/digital texts. How can we come to terms with such a complex and pervasive concept? That’s an ongoing and long-lasting challenge, and that’s why we are constantly working and pondering how we can define the concept of genre in a satisfactory way (for example, see here).
In the field of NLP or Computational Linguistics or IR or Text Analytics in general, the potentials and the benefits of genre research and especially of automatic genre identification are still underestimated. Genre is a difficult concept to pin down, and we all agree on that. Automatic Genre Identification is still in a niche, and that’s the uncontroversial. So, given these two premises it is easy to state the conclusion: WE NEED MORE RESEARCH! Please use this blog, the WebGenre group on LinkedIn, the Genres On the Web page on Facebook to disseminate genre-related research and to discuss genre-related issues. Genre, Register, Text Type, Domain, Style…. call it as you wish, but spread the word about genre research and talk about genre-related issues.
Many people are interested in genre studies and try to know more about this topic. For instance, since its online publication on October 01, 2010, there has been a total of 2785 chapter downloads for the book “Genres on the web. Computational Models and Empirical Studies Text, Speech and Language Technology, Vol. 42, Springer” form SpringerLink. This means that this genre book was one of the top 50% most downloaded eBooks in the relevant Springer eBook Collection in 2013.
This shows, in my opinion, that a wide multidisciplinary audience is ready to enter the meanders of genre classification and is interested in exploring the cognitive and computational sides of the concept of genre. So… welcome everybody and spread the word about (web)genre!
Many genre books have been published in recent years. If you are interested in the empirical explorations and automatic genre classification,”Genres on the web. Computational Models and Empirical Studies” is a good starting point. Springer has recently introduced a MyCopy version, which is a service that allows library patrons to order a personal, printed-on-demand softcover edition of an eBook for little money. Additionally, journal editors, journalists or bloggers can request a free Online Review Copy of the book from your book’s home page. Help yourselves!
Have a nice summer, Marina