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I've just started exploring the world of open data and towards that aim I've been looking the data sets on catalog.data.gov and inventory.data.gov.

What I'm struggling to understand is the purpose of inventory.data.gov. The about page states: "Inventory.data.gov is a tool for federal agencies to create and publish metadata catalogs"

Isn't the metadata for each data set published on catalog.data.gov as well? If so, then what purpose does the inventory.data.gov site serve?

  • I didn't know such sites existed. If it's what I suspect it is, we could use it for all of the non-tabular data, non-geo data. (the data that I manage is scientific images ... millions and millions of images ... and there's been no good way to put it into data.gov) – Joe Mar 25 '16 at 20:28
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    you're right ... I just logged in (required registration) ... and it's looking like it's a bunch of records of questionable quality. "Coming soon.", "test ncalink", etc. I'm still waiting for them to come up with some sort of concept of grouping / collections. (rather than have the precipitation data for each year as a separate file, for them to roll them up into a single concept) – Joe Mar 25 '16 at 20:35
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    I also just remembered -- the term 'metadata catalog' has more than one meaning. The ontology community uses the phrase for systems to manage vocabulary. The scientific community uses the phrase for what should really be called 'data catalogs' (which are inventories of the available data). This might be part of the confusion. I assumed it's the second usage due the hostname being 'inventory'. – Joe Mar 25 '16 at 20:46
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    Speaking of collections, I did run into something interesting. There is a field called isPartOf to indicate that the data set is part of a collection. Take a look at this for example: catalog.data.gov/dataset/2012-abr-report – mihiriyer Mar 25 '16 at 20:50
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    My initial assumption was that this could be used for catalog[ue]s of non-digitised or non-online data - which is useful to list publicly even if it's not immediately available, since it tells people it exists and they can try to get hold of it, rather than being completely unaware - but would be good to have a clear answer. – Andrew Mar 25 '16 at 22:03
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Since 2019, there is Inventory.data.gov Guide at resources.data.gov.

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