At last! The new website of the Museum of National History and its related semantic network are live. I’m very proud of the end result and thought I’d share it with our international followers. This post is a transcript of the presentation speech I gave, with some minor adjustments, so please forgive the enthusiastic promotional language. I’ll go into the juicy details later on this blog.
(Also, the website is in Dutch, which will be a challenge for Google Translate.)
A connected website
Our website is more than a website. When we started the project to develop a new website for the museum, we realised most of the historical information is already available online. Our aim was not to copy all of this, but to connect it and add our own information, events and expositions to make it meaningful to larger audiences.
Therefore, together with the website we launched the INNL network, a semantic network of history and heritage websites. Existing online collections and communities are connected in a meaningful way with each other and our website. At the moment, there are five partners in the network, and many more are on the list to be connected.
One of the directly visible benefits of the INNL network is that you can draw from the collective knowledge of all partnering websites when you make a new article, event or tag historical figures in a painting. Another is that related content around the content on the website (sort of like the Amazon recommendations) do not only come from our website, but from the network, providing more and better related content.
Of course the website is connected to the major social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and the Dutch social network Hyves. We also integrated our other online presence, such as our Flickr photos, in the website. If you’ve been to one of our events, such as the Night of History or the New Technology Conference, your photos and videos are only one click away.
Being connected means sharing. Apart from the social sharing we offer a – for now still limited – API that others can and will use to connect history. And sharing means we have to be open. Therefore I’m especially happy to tell that all our original content is shared under a CC-BY-SA license.
A personal website
You can register and make a profile on our new website. Or you can connect any of your existing profiles in the INNL network to our new website, which saves you remembering passwords. Facebook connect is in the last phases of testing. With a profile you get your entry ticket to connect with history. It’s your personal entrance into the richness of Dutch history online.
A profile allows you to interact with most of the website. You can indicate your interests in different historical topics, participate in discussions or simply use your profile to keep track of what’s new on the things you’ve liked. Based on who you are and what you do on the website, it’ll try to make you enthusiastic about related historical topics, activities, etc. This is still under development, but the first steps we took are already quite promising.
Whenever you’ve indicated you like something, say an event in history or one of our activities, you’re notified about new developments and information related to the topic of your interest. This helps you keep track of what is happening and what might be relevant to you. It’s a step towards making our information, collection and events reach people rather than wait for people to reach them.
And, finally, the website is a place where you can connect with like-minded people and share your thoughts and opinions about history. It’s a cradle for small specialist communities of enthusiastic people. Our curatorial staff gives the good example by blogging about relevant historical topics and actively engaging the audience in their projects. Other staffers will also do so.
The website as a collaborative effort
The website is a collaborative effort of Mediamatic on technology, Lava on design en the Museum of National History. In the museum everybody participated in its construction: from curators to project managers to the new media people. Sometimes this was a difficult process, but in the end all discussions definitely contributed to the quality of the website.
All our activities, past, present and future, will come together in the website. Our view on history is explained in-depth by curators in their worlds, with calls-to-action to those who want to contribute with their knowledge. Everybody will be blogging about their work and development, so you can follow us and the development of the museum almost in real-time.
It’s all too much to tell in a short speech, you’ll have to discover it yourself at www.innl.nl ;-)
What would you like to know about our website?
(This is not from the presentation.) I’m really enthusiastic about our website. Although a website is always merely a tool for larger projects, I think we’ve brought together quite some of the best we’ve seen around the world into one website. It has a lot of great features and small advantages (such as our own lovely shortened URLs).
I will write about many of these things in-depth over the next weeks. But, of course, I’m more than willing to answer your questions about the project, the website, the semantic network, the why’s and how’s and everything else you might want to know. Feel free to ask, it’ll help me make future posts less promotional and more valuable!:-)