High-level functional design of the distributed network of heritage information
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High-level functional design

Distributed network of digital heritage information



This document outlines the high-level functional design of the distributed network of digital heritage information. The document was commissioned by work program Usable of the Digital Heritage Network (NDE), a partnership between cultural heritage institutions in the Netherlands.

The document describes the design of a new, cross-domain infrastructure for improving the usability of digital heritage information beyond the boundaries of archives, libraries, museums and research institutes. The design is high-level because it describes the distributed network in general terms, not its details. The design is functional because it describes the functionality of the distributed network, not for instance its organizational or technical considerations. Other types of designs — detailed, non-functional — will be made in the next steps of the program.

The document builds upon three other documents:

  1. The National Digital Heritage Strategy offers a perspective on developing a national, cross-sector infrastructure of digital heritage facilities.

  2. The Digital Heritage Reference Architecture (DERA 1.0; in Dutch) provides a coherent set of architectural goals, principles and requirements that enable cultural heritage institutions to work together in a shared infrastructure.

  3. The position paper Towards a distributed network of heritage information (Word document) proposes an approach for connecting heritage information using state of the art concepts and technologies, such as Linked Data.

Status of this document

This is a working draft. It may be updated at any time, evolving as we go. It is published for examination, experimental implementation and evaluation. Feedback is highly appreciated.

This document lays a — mostly theoretical — foundation for the future development of the infrastructure. In the upcoming months the ideas in this document are going to be applied and validated in various projects of cultural heritage institutions and related organizations. The outcomes will be used to strengthen the design.


The intended audience of this document is threefold:

  1. IT strategists, architects, analysts and developers from organizations that publish or use heritage information. For example: cultural heritage institutions, service portals or suppliers of IT solutions.

  2. Product owners and product managers from organizations that publish or use heritage information. For example: cultural heritage institutions, terminology source providers or aggregator providers.

  3. Researchers from the academic community. We hope that researchers will amend and improve the design in this document with insights from their own research findings.

The document assumes knowledge about topics such as aggregation, web architecture, publishing data on the web and Linked Data.