Metagrid is a project of the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAHS) for the online networking of humanities resources. It is implemented by the Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland (Dodis), with the support of the Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (HDS). The webservice makes it possible to set up, administrate and analyse links between identical entities (e.g., persons, organisations, or geographic terms) from different websites and databases.
What does Metagrid do?
«Traditional link connections» from A → B operate on a unilateral basis only and it is the user of web page A alone who benefits from the connection. Metagrid generates multilateral link connections between A and B, through which the user is able to alternate back and forth between web pages A and B with the help of a widget.
How does Metagrid work?
The Metagrid Web service collects the specific URL and the distinct ID of the entity (person, organisation, etc.) in a central archive. Whenever a match exists, the entity’s corresponding IDs from both participating projects are equated. This procedure also solves the problem that a minor change in a URL can cause the link to lead to a dead end. Here Metagrid uses the entity’s ID (e.g., for http://dodis.ch/P181 the ID is «P181») as the central element. URLs are recorded in a separate list, and any possible change to a URL need only be noted there; no further adjustments are necessary. Furthermore, every participant retains full control of its own data, as the Metagrid networking does not take place on a hierarchic horizontal level, but is instead organised on a federative level.
How is Metagrid used?
Metagrid is integrated into a website or a database by means of a widget. This requires only two lines of HTML Code. The Metagrid prototype is already in use and operational. Additional tools for Metagrid are in planning, including a web-based Admin-Interface and a browser plugin for data maintenance.
Dr. Sacha Zala
Head informatics and development
Application development and management