‘Connecto ergo sum’: a hyperlink analysis of national archives in the Eastern and Southern Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives
Lennart Björneborn’s famous tweet, ‘connecto ergo sum’, which means, ‘I link, therefore I exist’, puts forward the intriguing dimension of the web as a platform for link-based research, a major tenet of webometrics. Webometrics, as discussed in this study, explored the web presence, web visibility, web-impact and linkage of archival institutions in the ESARBICA region; examining the types of institutions that provide links to archival institutions in the ESARBICA region; establishing the links pointing to national archival institutions in the ESARBICA region; and examining the type of institutions that provide these links. Google Search engine and Alexa metasearch engine were used to collect data. Additionally, the formulas derived from the Statistical Cybermetrics Research Group (2016): ‘Impact=Inlinks/page’ and ‘site:Domain’ were used to collect data on the impact and web pages linking to the archival institutions. The study was underpinned by the Citation Analysis theory. Search engines, metasearch engines and web content analysis were used to collect webometrics data from ESARBICA archival websites. The findings of the study revealed that the web-impact of ESARBICA archival institutions is generally low as evidenced by the low impact factors attained. This may lead to the minimal usage of the information on the websites, undermining the importance of archival institutions. The low impact can be increased through such measures as redesigning websites to increase visibility, posting rich files on websites, and interlinking the websites to key archival associations and institutions, among others. Other findings showed that some websites were hosted by institutions other than the archival institutions The impact results further revealed that in the ESARBICA region, Southern Africa was more represented with the archival institutions from six countries (Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe), while the Eastern African region had archival institutions from two countries (Kenya and Tanzania). The findings further showed that not all archival websites attained web presence in the form of accessible websites. The link classification results revealed that the ESARBICA websites mostly attracted industry links with extensions .com and .co as the most popular Top Level Domains (TLD). A strong link relationship was noted between archival institutions and research-based activities in universities, as well as evidence of openness as archival institutions published documents with archives-related discussions on Google Scholar. The study showed that ESARBICA archival websites are not interactive in nature and have not yet embraced Web 2.0 tools on their archival websites. The implications of the study included that archival institutions without websites might consider attaining web presence through constructing websites, establishing link relationships by archival institutions, and making efforts to avail more data to enhance web presence in ranking. The study recommended that ESARBICA archival institutions host standalone websites and establish links with archives related research sites. The practical implications of the paper include: revealing the specific ways in which archival institutions can conduct web-link assessments and web-impact assessments, ways of interpreting results from web-impact assessments and link-impact assessments, assessing alternative methods of link counts.