SVG virtual weather station thread

aloha!  during an unminuted portion of the conversation charlie and i had
during the XG's telecon time-slot tuesday, was an exchange about
interweaving accessibility and situational "disability" into the woof 
and weave of the XG report as an important consideration before serving
data stroke information from an information distribution source...  i've 
taken an action item to propose text to do that, but in the course of the 
conversation i referred to a thread that i think perfectly underscores 
the "rich presentation equals smart presentation, not just rich graphics" 
point that we need (at least in my opinion) to reinforce to our audience
at every opportunity,


Date: Thu, 6 Nov 2008 09:32:25 -0500   
From: "Dailey, David P." <>         
  To: <>, <>
Subj: Another SVG challenge -- virtual weather station

For maybe five years now, I have given my Interface Design students 
a wide variety of possible final projects to choose from [1]. There 
are a few several on which nobody has made much progress over the 
years. Today someone showed me a demo of a new beta desktop 
environment (called BumpTop [2]) would work. It reminds me of some of 
what I’ve been talking about in terms of “physics in layout” and the 
<superpath> idea, and presents some very intriguing concepts for 
interface. Anyhow, they have a little widget thingy that starts to 
look a bit like the virtual weather station I’ve been asking my 
students to do. Given that the idea is starting to reinvent itself 
outside of my own little world, I figure it’s time to try to challenge 
some folks other than my students (if for no other reason than to save 
someone the agony of accidentally trying to patent something for which
prior art already exists).

So here’s the challenge:

Some people work in offices that have no windows. Let’s build one for 

Make an SVG page that determines the visitor’sgeographic location (based 
on IP address, or direct query through a form). Next artificially 
generate an animated depiction of what the weather outside would look 
like based on current weather data (e.g. precipitation, wind velocity 
and temperature data) from the National Weather Service), the visitor's 
latitude and longitude, the time of day, and the time of year. How light 
or dark it is should vary as a function time of year, latitude, humidity
and cloud cover.

For example, if it is currently raining heavily and the wind is blowing 
very hard, and it is noon in October in Nome, and the temperature is -3 
the sky will look rather different than similar circumstances at 17:00 in 
Miami at a warmer temperature.

Overall weather categories (like rain, snow, sleet, hail, sandstorms, 
etc.) should be chosen from some relatively international weather 
vocabulary if such exists.

To depict a windy day when there is no precipitation or airborne sand, 
one may wish to draw artificial trees and or clouds, to show the effect 
of the wind.

The best entry will receive the largest smile so tell all your friends 
and neighbors.



[2] BumpTop demo

[3] new features for SVG

Date: Thu, 6 Nov 2008 20:31:07  0000   
From: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <>         
  To: "Dailey, David P." <>, 
Subj: Re: Another SVG challenge -- virtual weather station

aloha, david!

instead of SVG-fits all, wouldn't it be wiser and more useful to 
repurpose the data in conformance with the profile -- software, 
hardware, delivery speed, the user's needs at that moment -- and 
user-side settings and preferences of the consumer of this 

i'm not arguing against "accessible SVG", or your vision of a "virtual 
window", which i personally find quite appealing, although i wouldn't 
be able to use it, because i am blind...  but it isn't myself that i 
have in mind as i compose this, but those cases when a sailor, for 
example, or a tourist canoeing in a park or wilderness area to needs 
stroke prefers that this info be communicated to them verbally or in 
another medium less distracting than the interpretation of a visual 
representation built upon raw data that SHOULD be expressed as SVG, 
and as accessible SVG as possible, but SVG MUST not be the user's 
only option...

this is an issue that i've worked on in the abstract and in practice 
with a few blind sailors' groups and weather information distributors -- 
the graphical representation is being generated based upon the 
underlying data collected by many means -- a "smart" weather information 
distribution system would take that into account...  in your example, 
you used as an initial data point the user's location, which could be 
determined by IP address, GPS, or direct query via a simple form: postal 
code, longitude & latitude, and the like, to obtain accumulated data for 
that specific geographic location on earth -- yes, it is not only very 
cool that that data could be transformed into accessible SVG, but that is 
not the optimal nor can it be the ONLY data transformation available from 
the weather information source, for like me, who is blind, those engaging 
in concentration-intense activities, such as rock climbing, white water 
rafting, trekking across a glacier, or other similar situations cannot 
afford unnecesary distractions and need usable, coherent information 
delivered to them straight from the information source....

again, my reply is NOT an argument against your proposed exercise -- 
on the contrary, i support and encourage it (i'd like to be able to 
check out the weather on the serengeti or keep tabs on the polar ice 
caps), but when serving data from a backplane, it must always be 
remembered that the best data is that served in a manner most suited to 
the requester at the time of the request, as well as providing a means of 
accessing the information contained in the generated SVG for those 
checking the weather on their computer in the morning because they can't 
determine if the sky is cloudy, clear or grey...

You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of 
focus.                                           -- Mark Twain 
Gregory J. Rosmaita: 
  Vice-Chair: Linux Foundation's Open Accessibility Workgroup                 

Date: Fri, 7 Nov 2008 10:00:21 -0500   
From: "Dailey, David P." <>         
  To: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <>, <>
Subj: RE: Another SVG challenge -- virtual weather station

Fascinating Gregory,

I am sorry to admit I had not even thought about accessibility issues 
in this context. You've opened a new perspective on it for me. 
Providing an interface to that backplane of data for unsighted 
populations would no longer consist of just entertainment or 
nerve-soothing value (as I had considered it) but, in the situations 
you outline, important. I talked about your ideas in class this 


Date: Fri, 7 Nov 2008 18:37:56  0000   
From: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <>      
  To: "Dailey, David P." <>,<>
Subj: RE: Another SVG challenge -- virtual weather station

aloha, david!

thank you so very much for your reply and for stressing to your 
students that it is the underlying data that needs to be repurposable, 
not "just" to accommodate the "disabled", but also those for whom a 
visual medium is inconvenient or even dangerous, given the situation 
in which the informational query is being made...

if i can be of any further assistance to you or you would like to 
continue this dialog, PLEASE do not hesitate to let me know, on-list 
or off-list...

as a side note, one of the W3C groups in which i am a "participant 
in good standing" is the Rich Web Applications Backplane Incubator 
group, precisely to keep the concept of the serving most appropriate 
content from raw data, rather than providing an after-the-fact 
accessibility overlay, foremost in the XG's minds; of course, as i 
stated, the output, no matter the modality, should be as accessible 
as possible, but the need for the same basic data set served in as 
many contexts as possible should be the end goal for the weather 
information distribution service so that those who need information 
quickly and accurately conveyed to them, no matter what the circumstance, 
has that ability...  this is one of the reasons why the news exchange 
formats (a.k.a. the NewsML effort - is so 
intriguing, as the "suite" of "news exchange formats" (all XML-derived 
languages/dialects) now includes "EventsML" and "SportsML", and i need 
to investigate whether or not SVG is addressed/used by the news 
exchange formats as the optimal visual representation format for 
news-oriented institutions and companies...

glad to have been of assistance, gregory. 
It is difficult to say what is impossible, for yesterday's dream is 
today's hope and tomorrow's reality.           -- Robert P. Goddard 
Gregory J. Rosmaita, 
     Camera Obscura: 
            Oedipus' Online Complexes: 

Received on Wednesday, 3 December 2008 21:29:33 UTC