iBiosphere exists at the intersection between biosphere sciences and computational sciences and includes all aspects of the MetaWeb that foster and facilitate scientific understanding and development of sustainability in agriculture and ecosystems (see original post).
iBiosphere is related to Nova Spivack's concept of the MetaWeb, or the Relationship Web, which he describes as arising out of integration of the Semantic Web (connecting information) and Social Media (connecting people), to connect knowledge. 21st century biology will advance rapidly and exponentially by merging into the MetaWeb. The MetaWeb will bring Biology Research together with Policy, Education, Extension and the Social Sciences in new ways that we can only imagine. The MetaWeb will foster the creation of new communities that are aligned with needs and that are essential for addressing the global imperative of creating a sustainable agriculture within a sustainable biosphere. The concept behind iBiosphere is also similar to NSF's original concept for The iPlant Collaborative - a global collaborative in the plant sciences intended to be "by, for and of the community" and facilitated by appropriate use of cyberinfrastructure, the semantic web, and social media.
As an emergent property of the MetaWeb, iBiosphere cannot be planned. However, it can be 'facilitated' by any interested persons and organizations. It will likely be comprised of a network of nodes, such as the TeraGrid (now called XSEDE), a US network of major supercomputing centers. iBiosphere's cyberinfrastructure needs will likely be partially met by XSEDE and similar government-supported efforts elsewhere in world, as well as by the many commercial HPC and 'cloud' services. However, iBiosphere will be much more than a network of major nodes - it will be comprised of all interested persons and entities choosing to be a node in the iBiosphere network. Nonetheless, to get iBiosphere going, major founding nodes seem desirable.
An example of a major founding node might be the University of Arizona, which leads the iPlant cyberinfrastructure collaborative in collaboration principally with TACC (Texas Advanced Computing Center) and CSHL (Cold Spring Harbor Lab). UA has a variety of strengths beyond iPlant that position it well to serve as an early founding node in iBiosphere. In brief, UA is a leader in ecology and evolution, information sciences, and remote imaging. It also has very strong programs in earth sciences, genomics, and library sciences. And it has unique, major programs such as B2 Earthscience and the Institute of the Environment (as well as The iPlant Collaborative).
(Disclosure: I was the principal investigator of iPlant and led the project from Sept, 2006, to Sept, 2009; I have used it as an example here simply because I am quite familiar with it. Many other examples of potential major nodes also exist, perhaps better ones, and over time these will be explored in this blog. Interested readers are encouraged to offer suggestions in the comments section, or even to contribute posts.)