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Domain model and connections

by • 25 Nov, 2010 • TechnologyComments (8)4265

The INNL network – what it is and how it works

Last week we launched our new website. As I wrote last week it’s a connected website. With our website, we launched the INNL network. The INNL network is a semantic network of history and heritage websites.

Connecting online collections and communities

When we started the new website project, we realised that over the last couple of years many museums, archives and other institutions have digitised their collections. At the same time many created communities around projects and expositions. The result of all these efforts is a rich, but dispersed online presence of culture, history and heritage. If you know where to look, you can find almost anything online. Most people, however, don’t look further than Wikipedia and the top-3 results in Google (often the same).

We wanted to make it easier for people to discover history and heritage online by connecting different collections and communities. Sort of like Europeana builds an enormous database of European collections, but then focused at the normal Internet user, who doesn’t even know Europeana exists. This idea, the INNL network, allows people to enter anywhere in the network and experience the rich online collections, rather than having to search for them.

For participating partners in the INNL network, it has two straightforward advantages:

  1. More reach for their collections and communities, as their content is shared on the websites of other partners. This happens both automatically and manually.
  2. More context for their collections and communities, as the content of partners can (automatically, manually) enrich their content so visitors experience richer environments.

The INNL network is based on Mediamatic’s AnyMeta CMS and OpenCI network. They’re also the ones who built it and our partner in the ongoing development.

Making meaningful connections over the INNL network

The INNL network as a piece of technology is rather intangible. The opportunities it offers, however, are very tangible. As all items in the network are shared over the network, it’s very easy to make meaningful connections between different items.

The INNL network: sample page The INNL network: input fields with network wide type-ahead

The AnyMeta CMS uses input fields with type-ahead for much of its information. These type-aheads search within the INNL network, not only the website, giving you much more possible hits.

The INNL network: Links are shown with a special icon The INNL network on a partner website

Links over the INNL network are clearly indicated on the websites. The symbol is the same on all websites and the meaning we hope to give it over the years is that of a trusted source for history and heritage.

The INNL network on a partner website The INNL network: tagging people in images across the network

The same applies with tagging people in images. Almost all meaningful connections are two-way connections. This means that, for instance, once you’ve indicated that a person from website A has lived in a city on website B, both on website A and B this connection is visible.

On our new website we use the content of the partners in the INNL network to make richer files on certain topics. Once an item from a partner website is linked to (and thus recognised as a valuable source of information) it shows up in the related content of related items.

The INNL network: items showing up in related content The INNL network: items showing up in folders

In the two images above you can see both an article and a file in which content from other websites in the INNL network have been embedded. Again, these are recognisable by the link logo.

Sharing the possibility to participate over the INNL network

A profile of (most of the) participating partners in the INNL network makes it possible to participate with the other websites. This goes beyond commenting, and includes amongst others marking favourites, annotating places you’ve visited and making contact with other users.

Logging in on a partner website with an INNL profile Interaction on a partner website with the profile

Of course, with Facebook and other services, this is becoming mainstream on most websites. We’re also working on integrating Facebook and other services into the websites, so all the options of the INNL network become available to your Facebook account.

With over 200,000 shared items by five partners the INNL network has a strong basis to build upon. However, this is only the beginning. We’re already talking with other partners and looking at “open” platforms such as Wikipedia, Flickr Commons and Europeana to connect with the network. It’s not all about numbers, though. As we’re building the network for “normal people” we’re especially looking at meaningful collections and communities.

If you’re interested in having a look at the INNL network, go to our website and click around until you find the link icon. There’s more and more of them every day!

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