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Evolution of the International Hyperlink Network


This study describes the evolution of the international hyperlink network. The World Wide Web is a distributed hypertext system consisting of a virtual network of content and hyperlinks with billions of interlinked pages. Since the Web has no "engineered architecture," it can be understood as a self-organized system with a well-defined structure of linkage that implies an underlying social structure. This article examines the evolution of the Web’s emergent social structure and communication network at the level of nation-states. It reviews the literature on the international hyperlink network and then focuses on changes between 2009 and 2010 using data on the frequency of bilateral hyperlinks between nations. The article discusses special problems associated with the top-level domain .com as well as other generic top-level domains that do not refer to specific nations whose domain names refer to commercial or vanity applications.

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