So this post completely evolved beyond what I was going to write about….I’ve been using QGIS 2.3 (The upcoming 2.4) for the last couple of weeks. It’s impressive and fascinating….I’ve been on the listserv for QGIS Decelopers and have been watching the emails fly back and forth. It’s actually incredibly interesting to watch it evolve.
One of the new things in upcoming 2.4 is the Metasearch capability. Metasearch is a plugin for 2.2. Once the plugin is active you zoom to a location and crack open Metasearch and connect to your favorite catalog service. Then search. In this case I searched for topographic and I found the new topographic map service pushed out by the USGS/National Map (CAN WE PLEASE GET YELLOW CONTOURS). I connected to it and was horrified because of the contour color.
Which is pretty cool – searchable metadata. A little more digging and I found there is a CSW client for ESRI also.
Which all brought me back to the way back machine. So waaaay back in 1995…maybe 1996. I was placed on the metadata team for my former employer. We were looking at ways to implement metadata collection efficiently and cheaply. The task itself was way bigger than anyone had imagined – we were the central map library for an agency that covered multiple states and had maps going back to the 1930’s. We worked. We learned. We bought commercial software packages (SMMS). We wrote metadata for something like 3000 digital raster graphic files sitting all over the network. Time went on and SMMS was purchased by Intergraph. Someone had the brilliant idea to throw out everything and switch to another product. 13 years after that I left the agency and truth be told we were still wrestling with collecting metadata efficiently and cheaply.
Which brings me to now. I was playing around with Metasearch waiting on a wedding to start. I was reading about submitting metadata to data.gov. There was also a page to submit to the USGS (and I have much hope it all ends up in the same place). I also ran across a page where the Geoportal from ESRI could harvest and push metadata. In 1997 one of our big pains was putting metadata beyond the firewall to be harvested by a service from the FGDC.
In 2014 I have no clue why we still submit metadata to services for cataloging. It’s a completely mixed bag on what you get back when you search. Plus there is no guarantee what you pull back is the most up to date. Everyone it seems has duplicates of everything. The services don’t appear curated but maybe they are to a degree. Metadata (IMO) can be horribly slopped through because it’s just brutal to fill out. Search for State Boundaries on Data.gov .
Why get worked up about it – I just did at the time. It is silly – but there needs to be a better way to go about this. I’m not even sure how to fix it unless all metadata goes into a searchable internet repository (someone call the Google/Bing/DuckDuckGo and ask). Any search returns the vintage and resolution. Except that would require people to actually fill out that information. Have consistent keywords. A cataloging system. Something where state boundaries doesn’t return 12988 things.
I guess I need to start practicing what I preach. Fill out metadata. Try to help. Somehow.