The temporal evolution of the Normalized Web Distance. Is a ‘Wirikuta empowerment’ of the Huichol measurable on the Internet?

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2 Citaten (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to assess whether the temporal evolution of the normalized web distance (NWD) between significant terms concerning, e.g., a case of online activism can be used as a meta-data technique to measure evolution over time of, e.g., progress or decline of social empowerment.

The NWD between two terms has been identified as a quantitative measure for semantic proximity, ascertaining a defining relation between them. A trend analysis is made by performing on the internet a time window restrained series measurement of NWD of all combinations of key-terms and classifier-terms. Case defining key-terms, positive and negative discourse polarizing classifier-terms, and neutral classifier-terms for negative control need to be determined by discourse analysis of information on a targeted case. An example of NWD evolution from 1994 until 2013 is presented to measure the empowerment effects of the Wirikuta online movement on the Huichol people in Mexico.

The application of the NWD temporal evolution method to the Wirikuta case shows a slight but significant semantic change of the key-terms with respect to some of the positive and negative classifier-terms. The neutral classifier correctly shows no significant distance variation, as required for valid application of the method. The method provides indications for a complex image of empowerment of the Huichol identity.

Research limitations/implications
The accuracy of the method is limited due to short-term and between-user variability of the search tool’s page counts. More reliable access to a web-index will be required for more accurate NWD-based trend analysis.

Practical implications
The monitoring of temporal NWD evolution provides a potential tool for more comprehensive trend description compared to classical frequency based methods.

Trend analysis is key to internet research, to which the temporal NWD method provides an innovative contribution.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)1269 - 1290
Aantal pagina's32
TijdschriftInternet Research
Nummer van het tijdschrift5
StatusPublished - 2016


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