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 cyberinfrastructures.
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Users as essential contributors to spatial cyberinfrastructures