Saturday, June 24, 2006

SVG groups and SVG use by the major portals

Yahoo Groups does host an SVG interest group, svg-developers.

At this point in time, I am not aware of any use of SVG technology by Yahoo itself on any of their hundred or so portals.

This seems a little odd, since their arch-rival Google is already using SVG some on their sites. Not to mention the fact that Yahoo is deep in a two-pronged effort to increase market share by:
  1. enticing users to the sites with:
    1. better-looking page designs, and
    2. smoother behavior by using AJAX
  2. enticing developers to create content and tools by:
    1. giving away SDKs
    2. documenting APIs
    3. supporting new technologies like AJAX and web services

Google is a bit more on the ball with SVG.

For one thing, they have - or will soon have - SVG support in Google Maps.

You can also access the newsgroup from the Google Groups website.

Microsoft has SVG support in their Microsoft Live maps feature.

So all the major players are out there using SVG, or at least passively encouraging it.

It would be nice, now that more than ten percent of the web can actually take advantage of its benefits without even installing a plugin, if the big three would support SVG even more. They could at least install conditional support throughout their sites, like Google and Microsoft have already done for their Maps users.

Three other areas that SVG would really heat up the user and developer interest in are:
  1. image albums
  2. reports
  3. visualizations

Image albums are hot in 2006! Look at Flickr, which - after attaining the ripe, old age of a year and a half old - was bought by Yahoo for millions of dollars. Flickr is popular because:
  1. millions of people can look at it, and with millions of people putting up images on it - some of them are darned good/popular
  2. tagging folksonomy support
  3. favorites-marking feature is handy
  4. commenting on images is fun and sometimes even useful

So, if a new site was created just to support SVG images, and it had the same sorts of features as Flickr and other social webites - it would rapidly rocket in popularity.

There would be all kinds of unique uses for such a site. Image owners could publish their:
  1. clip art creations
  2. diagrams
  3. interactive visualizations
  4. graphical sitemaps for their websites
  5. sentence diagrams of sound bites from recent popular speeches
  6. logic diagrams that pick apart recent quotes that are in the news, illustrating what are good points, and what are outright rhetoric & logical fallacies
  7. connections between assertions made in some current news stories - and contradictory facts listed in other stories in the news

These sorts of things could make public debate or interesting, productive, and honest.

They could allow websites to offer a compelling view or their usefulness that could be taken in at a glance. They could help promoters of new vendor-independent technical standards express their pet technology's benefits. They could get the public more familiar with thinking and looking at things logically, and acquainted with the benefits of that rather than listening to hollow arguments and swayed by pure emotion.

Sure, some people would tried to game this system by spamming or whatever. But what they publish would not become popular, thanks to the social-ranking features: favorites and/or ratings. Junk would sink to the bottom, where it belongs. Pure golden ideas would float, like they should.

Visualizations are a pretty exciting area. What makes them exciting is that
  1. our existing tools/programs can create them easily now
  2. users have the display hardware and software needed to render them very nicely
  3. hardware is very fast now
  4. we have more data than ever now, which can be presented as information by analysis using heuristic knowledge - and algorithms - that we have accumulated

Reports (tables, graphs, pithy comments/annotations) are just plain essential.

Websites like Google and Yahoo offer their advertising customers reports on how their advertising campaign is going, what it is costing them, where they are spending money, and so forth. As a rule, people do not plunk down money on a service if they cannot see the results for themselves!

Advertisers cannot look over everyone's shoulder (physically), so they tend to go for the next best thing. If a marketing campaign seems to be going well, then the sales people can forecast that and cost centers can use that to justify their recent and near-term budgets. If a marketing campaign does seem to be going well, then all internal stake holders can push for making improvements while it will still make a difference to do so.

Another kind of thing that publishes reports is Amazon's Alexi (A9) service. They list who the popular websites are, rank them, and tell how much traffic & users they are getting. Well, that information can come as reports and those reports can include graphs, just like financial reports do. In fact, because a heck of a lot of financing is riding on those figures - they really should!

These are just some of the really obvious things that SVG images can do. The biggest web portals are doing some things with SVG. They should be doing a lot more, however. And it would not be hard for them to do so.


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