PLoS ONE (Jan 2013)

Exploring default mode and information flow on the web.

  • Mizuki Oka,
  • Takashi Ikegami

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 4
p. e60398


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Social networking services (e.g., Twitter, Facebook) are now major sources of World Wide Web (called "Web") dynamics, together with Web search services (e.g., Google). These two types of Web services mutually influence each other but generate different dynamics. In this paper, we distinguish two modes of Web dynamics: the reactive mode and the default mode. It is assumed that Twitter messages (called "tweets") and Google search queries react to significant social movements and events, but they also demonstrate signs of becoming self-activated, thereby forming a baseline Web activity. We define the former as the reactive mode and the latter as the default mode of the Web. In this paper, we investigate these reactive and default modes of the Web's dynamics using transfer entropy (TE). The amount of information transferred between a time series of 1,000 frequent keywords in Twitter and the same keywords in Google queries is investigated across an 11-month time period. Study of the information flow on Google and Twitter revealed that information is generally transferred from Twitter to Google, indicating that Twitter time series have some preceding information about Google time series. We also studied the information flow among different Twitter keywords time series by taking keywords as nodes and flow directions as edges of a network. An analysis of this network revealed that frequent keywords tend to become an information source and infrequent keywords tend to become sink for other keywords. Based on these findings, we hypothesize that frequent keywords form the Web's default mode, which becomes an information source for infrequent keywords that generally form the Web's reactive mode. We also found that the Web consists of different time resolutions with respect to TE among Twitter keywords, which will be another focal point of this paper.