Spire is a research project investigating how semantic web technologies can be used to support science in general and the field of ecoinformatics in particular.
While reading the book crowdsourcing, I learned of similar efforts by NASA, and Cornell University's Ornithology lab. Many discoveries in science are now coming from amateur researchers -- ant not just from folks with multi-million dollar grants backing them. A few examples from the book are:
During the meeting and later, we were intrigued by the idea of developing an iPhone app to allow researchers and 'citizen scientists' to take pictures of species in the wild and upload them to spire. One important point here is that often an amateur researcher might not be aware of the scientific name of a species, but given we have enough eyes looking at the data being uploaded, we can divide the task of labeling and categorizing the findings. Citizen scientists can contribute at various levels -- performing field studies, annotating, building ontologies, etc.
Since, Spire is a Semantic Web application backed by ontologies, one can now reason over the findings and learn that an invasive species is posing a significant threat to the local habitat. This is the ultimate aim of Spire and to me, this is the killer app for Web 3.0 -- if you really insist on a term like that!
For more information on Spire please refer to the following publications.