What once was a blank page featuring a box that said “coming soon,” now is the beginnings of what could potentially be a very useful reference not only for people who love data, but also citizen journalists looking for more in-depth information. I’ve actually been waiting and wondering when this would open, and I’ll be jumping in when I get some free time and poking around with some of the data (already my favorite title is “World Copper Smelters”)
The purpose of Data.gov is to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.
When I worked on my college newspaper, I worked on a piece that examined the tax records of my school (I’ll post about that later, but suffice to say, we made a lot more money from pay phones that I ever expected, considering we only had one on campus). A lot of what looks to be accessible seems to be in the same vein: confusing at first, but offering a lot of information if you’re willing to keep digging.
Currently, there are 47 data catalogs and 27 tools available with the promise that more are on their way. The search function seems to work fairly well, although with such a small amount of data sets at the moment, most of the searches result in a majority of the data catalogs coming back as hits. There is metadata with each catalogue and users can rate the data’s usefulness, utility and ease of access.
Hopefully this will continue to grow quickly and we’ll have access to more information sooner rather than later. Check it out at data.gov.