Your browser is about to have a lot more in common with +Instagram!
From a recent presentation  on the state of web graphics given by Vincent Hardy of Adobe, it's clear that your browser is going to be able to do a lot more with graphics, text, fonts, and filters very soon.
In fact, the attached screenshot of a slide  from Vincent's talk was taken in Chrome 19 which, as you can see, already supports -webkit-filter , giving designers the ability to modify how visual elements appear without altering the source material.
Presuming these capabilities make it into the flotilla of popular browsers soon, it'll just be a matter of time before clever designers start to take advantage of them in interestingly expressive ways!
While I'm sure better filter/blend-mode support in browsers will bring us even more amazing experiments - (client-side) Instagram-like filters in the browser is not that hard to do even today. I've experimented with Filtrr JS/canvas library (http://bit.ly/JpizqV) and found it more than up to the task (code here - http://bit.ly/I3ZCsx). There are also others like PaintbrushJS (http://bit.ly/Jpjqb5), etc.
+Paul Kinlan people get pretty hung up on serialization. I'm surprised that makes it all the way in to standards bodies some times. There's a difference between the XML text that we see in source and the objects they represent. We didn't throw out the concepts of HTML to make html5 (after years of working on XHTML) and yet SVG gets tied to the XML that was the vogue serialization when it was invented.
SVG filters are rich and expressive. Shorthands for common filters are great. I hope these filters build on the same concepts and are informed with research in WebGL shaders as well.
.. why must they keep competing for the different css declarations??? "ms-filter...webkit-filter...moz-filter..." its a bit ridiculous. My stylesheets are often 2-3 times larger then I think they need to be if I want to take advantage of these different browser webkits. More importantly than size however is just the repetitive time it takes if I want to update one style I have to update it for 3 browsers. yawn
I guess google is trying to swiftboat facebook's buy of instagram. If Google can make instagram's filters obsolete, then facebook will have spend $1b for naught. (This interpretation discounts instagram's social and mobile experience which facebook also bought)
+Jacob Cigna — yeah, my personal opinion is that +Instagram isn't solely about the filters. And these browser-based filters aren't necessarily going to change the game that much — but they will lead to interesting visual effects when wielded by clever designers!