[GSDI Legal Socioecon] Users as essential contributors to spatial cyberinfrastructures
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Sat Dec 10 07:39:29 EST 2011
Users as essential contributors to spatial cyberinfrastructures
Barbara S. Poore. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 108(14): 5510-5515
Current accounts of spatial cyberinfrastructure development tend to overemphasize technologies to the neglect of critical social and cultural issues on which adoption depends. Spatial cyberinfrastructures will have a higher chance of success if users of many types, including nonprofessionals, are made central to the development process. Recent studies in the history of infrastructures reveal key turning points and issues that should be considered in the development of spatial cyberinfrastructure projects. These studies highlight the importance of adopting qualitative research methods to learn how users work with data and digital tools, and how user communities form. The author's empirical research on data sharing networks in the Pacific Northwest salmon crisis at the turn of the 21st century demonstrates that ordinary citizens can contribute critical local knowledge to global databases and should be considered in the design and construction of spatial
"The designers of spatial CIs should give serious consideration to involving critical
human geographers and other social scientists in projects from the beginning.
These researchers, using qualitative tools, can contribute a number of insights to
a developing CI. Knowing the histories of infrastructures, and in particular of SDIs,
can counteract the utopian visions that frequently accompany the rollout of new
systems, making these systems more effective in the long run. The focus in user
studies in GIScience has traditionally been on the individual user and his or her response
to the map interface, but this emphasis may be misplaced. Usability must
take account of previously unappreciated work practices and articulations that the
user has to make, and the tacit knowledge required. Uncovering these knowledges
can only be attained by ethnographic methods."
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