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12.1. Introduction

The largest machine-readable network graph on earth may be the structure created when web pages link to one another. The tens of billions of pages on the World Wide Web can each be seen as a vertex in a graph whose edges are URL hyperlinks connecting one page to another. These hyperlinks may point to other pages on the same web site or to sites of other organizations, companies, institutions, and nations. The result is literally a web of connections that is often mentioned but rarely seen. The network of related web sites, although based on basic “Web 1.0” technologies, represents important social, economic, and institutional relationships that can reveal significant insights for researchers, policy makers, and corporate strategists. Additionally, many Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs, wikis, and social sharing sites such as Delicious include hyperlink networks that can be captured using web site crawling tools. These networks are now more accessible than ever before for collecting, analyzing, and visualizing.

For most companies or institutions, the primary medium for building a web presence is still the venerable Web 1.0 web site. Organizational web sites now often have Web 2.0 features, incorporating, for example, a blog site or other features for customer engagement, but the mainstay of the typical organizational web site are features that are hallmarks of the Web 1.0 era: text content (including meta tags) describing the organization (“who we are”) and hyperlinks to other parts of the web site (“internal” links) and to pages outside of the web site (“external” links).


  

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