Networks of Communities and Communities of Networks in Online Government




Henman, Paul
Ackland, Robert
Graham, Timothy

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Academic Publishing Limited


Over the past decade the World Wide Web has become a core platform for the electronic operation of government. Yet the shape and nature of government presence on the Web and the online community in which it resides remains poorly understood and under-theorised. This paper analyses large-scale web crawling data that map the hyperlink network structure between government websites and the broader Web ecology in the UK. In particular, it reports the ‘communities’ of websites within a hyperlink network of over 19,000 websites and over 135,000 hyperlinks derived from 75 key UK government seed sites at national, regional (i.e. Scotland and Wales) and local government levels. Website communities were derived by utilising Infomap, a state-of-the-art community detection algorithm that operates on the principle that flows of information in complex networks reveals community structure. Identifying and analysing online communities in which government websites reside provides insights in how hyperlink communities are arranged, that is, their emergent organizing principal and the importance of government in these online communities. It is hypothesized that online ‘communities’ can occur around different policy topics (such as health, education or policing), or along institutional or jurisdictional boundaries (such as England, Scotland and Wales). Using this novel approach this paper demonstrates that communities emerge on both axes, and that social media and government portals are some of the most significant communities based on information flows. This research provides foundational knowledge about the role of government websites in the World Wide Web, the emergent online associations, and the changing dynamic of state information in the twenty-first century. It points to strategies for developing government Web presence in networks that matter.





Electronic Journal of e-Government


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Open Access

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