use-revolution Digest, Vol 47, Issue 19

Sivakatirswami katir at
Thu Aug 16 21:13:01 EDT 2007

Anyone who has done color calibraton for high end press
work will observe an unmentioned and unmeasured factor
in this discussion:

Ambient light lumins, of three types

1) in general --"Surround light"
2) in the 180 degrees in front of  you
3) in the vector directly behind your screen (directly in your eyes...)

if the pupil is contracting from too much light coming in
(the case if you are crazy enough to have an open sunlit
window in your field of vision while reading a screen in that same field)
while at the time trying to focus, for many people this
condition is immediately relieved by white type (or amber)
on a black background. Speed and comprehension
may (guessing) even go up... because if the ambient light
lumins are too high, the user is closing her eyes,
looking away, getting up to go for a walk, to relieve the
eye strain, so, in the course of 2 hours, you end up with less

Meanwhile someone who's environment is set to a 50%
gray (and that can just mean medium beige paint on the walls)
whose computer is facing a brown wall, and the windows are behind him
and the lights are recessed ceiling lights (all good stuff)
he will be very content to read black type on a white background
all day... "he's so concentrated!" and he can't understand why
the lady in the other office with her computer facing that giant
glass window (she loves the expansive view)
  is complaining about headaches...

Simple test... assuming you don't need to see papers
around your desk for those who think white type
on a black background is "easier on the eyes" just  turn off
all the lights in a room, at night, and then switch to
black type on a white background...


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Jeff Reynolds wrote:
> Stephen,
> No you are not alone, just in the minority from the work we did. I wish 
> i kept the data, the company is now gone along with all the files... I 
> do remember that the score distribution was totally moved down on the 
> light on dark tests, so it looked like most everyone was being affected 
> in stead of just part of the group bombing out badly. I'm pretty sure 
> that Xerox, Apple and MS HI research has borne out the same conclusions. 
> Light on dark is great as long as folks can select what works best for 
> them. Only problem is users may not realize their comprehension, speed 
> and retention are going down using the dark on light... Even though it 
> may look better to you that does not mean you function better with that 
> one. Thats exactly why we did the tests so that we would not just do 
> what looked good, but what worked better.
> in both print and screens i find myself squinting when i go dark on 
> light. I dont notice this at first and just adjust, but in a while start 
> realizing im squinting and leaning a bit. I know the eye doctors dont 
> like you doing that for any long period. my eyes are at boarder line 
> needing glasses after years of staring at screens.
> Im all for energy reduction and do just about everything i can to do it, 
> but in this case i just think its a bad idea unless its totally 
> switchable since it can just cause problems. Just seems like there are 
> many other ways of saving energy and carbon that are much more active 
> and just have all sorts of wins w/o losses. like driving less, not only 
> saving energy you are reducing your exposure to injury and exposure to 
> high point source pollutants as well as lowering stress!
> cheers,
> jeff
> On Aug 16, 2007, at 6:50 AM, use-revolution-request at wrote:
>> Energy considerations aside,  I <LIKE> a black info window with white
>> text. I find it a lot easier on the eyes.  I'd do it with all apps
>> that require text entry except many apps don't fix all interface
>> elelments correctly to match.
>> I can't be alone  here...
>>> Kay-
>>>>  account the huge number of page views, according to his 
>>>> calculations, 750
>>>>  mega watts/hour per year would be saved.
>>> OTOH, at a 20% wattage savings, if I have to spend 12 seconds longer 
>>> each
>>> minute squinting at light gray text on a black background then it's a 
>>> wash.
>>> And if I have to spend any longer because of the unreadable text I 
>>> actually
>>> waste more electricity than if I'd left well enough alone.
>>> -- 
>>>  Mark Wieder
>>>  mwieder at
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