Overcoming the Law of the Hidden in Cyberinfrastructures
Cyberinfrastructure projects (CIPs) are complex, integrated systems that require interaction and organization amongst user, developer, hardware, technical infrastructure, and funding resources. Nevertheless, CIP usability, functionality, and growth do not scale with the sum of these resources. Instead, growth and efficient usage of CIPs require access to ‘hidden’ resources. These include technical resources within CIPs as well as social and functional interactions among stakeholders. We identify approaches to overcome resource limitations following the conceptual basis of Liebig's Law of the Minimum. In so doing, we recommend practical steps towards efficient and scaleable resource use, taking the iPlant/CyVerse CIP as an example. Trends Recent investment in cyberinfrastructure has yielded large-scale platforms that transform computational innovations into useable software for the plant science community. However, only a small fraction of community-developed algorithms and tools have been ported to these platforms. Training in the life sciences and plant sciences in particular tends to require specialized training that is complementary to that of software developers and architects of cyberinfrastructure projects. This leads to significant gaps in expectation and in communication. Recent investment in the profile of ‘research software engineers’ presents an opportunity to support and democratize algorithms and tools. In addition, the growth of sustainable support communities can be used as an example of how to grow an algorithm into a community-deployed software that benefits the plant science community as a whole.
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