Identifiers are a hot topic in academic publishing. We have article identifiers, but we need stable identifiers for authors and institutions too. More on author identifiers in another posting. But there's a need for identifiers for lots of other kinds of resources too. If we have an identifier for a resource then we can link to it and share metadata about it.
bioGUID is an attempt to provide "resolvable URIs for biological objects, such as publications, taxonomic names, nucleotide sequences, and specimens".
The system currently supports DOIs, PubMed identifiers, Handles, and GenBank sequences amongst other identifier schemes. Under the hood all the information is available as RDF. Linking to, for example, an organism we can find related links, bookmark the organism on del.icio.us, and view its location on a map.
Collections of identifiers like bioGUID will become key jumping off points in the growing web of data. These "linking hubs" will provide navigational aids to both humans and machines; tieing distributed data sets and collections into a larger hypertext system will have numerous benefits, not least of which will be making it easier to find stuff.
Web 2.0 is really the collective realization that it's the humble link that is the powerhouse of the internet.