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Chuck(G)
December 1st, 2010, 08:22 PM
What is it with blue and computers now?

This forum uses a blue color scheme. Windows' default for so many things is blue. TV shows with computer content show nothing but screens in shades of blue, sometimes with blue room lighting. StarGate's color theme is blue; CSI uses blue...

Anyone know why?

My own desktop color scheme is "Pumpkin".

vwestlife
December 1st, 2010, 09:46 PM
I know that TV shows often use light blue paper, because it shows up better on camera -- white paper would have too much glare from the lights.

http://askabartender.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/match-game-41.jpg?w=320&h=240
http://www.bittenandbound.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/david-letterman-in-hot-water-with-sarah-palin.jpg

Chuck(G)
December 1st, 2010, 10:14 PM
Light blue paper is okay, but it's stuff like this that has me scratching my eyes out:

http://www.wallpaperbase.com/wallpapers/movie/csi/csi_2.jpg
http://ov3r.net/ov3r-images/26_jan/Stargate_Atlantis_S05E17.jpg
http://download-stargate-episodes.edogo.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/stargate_universe-tv-31.jpg
http://www.mnpctech.com/1Blue_led_computer_fan.jpg

What is it about blue that's so fascinating?

Ole Juul
December 2nd, 2010, 12:42 AM
There are a lot of shallow theories out there, but there is also a lot of history. As the pigment ultramarine, blue used to be really expensive and only rich clients could afford to pay for the use of a lot of it. Notice how Vermeer uses it in a way that really counts. Also notice the meaning of the word ultramarine (from across the sea) implies exotic and expensive. Up until recent times there was just no way to get a good blue without being rich.

Anyway, I do think that there is an early, and persistent, connection with the colour blue and royalty. Not even just royalty, but also with money and "class". In more recent times we have seen blue overwhelmingly used to represent banks and banking. Nowadays it is so strongly connected with corporate culture that to me it is synonymous.

Because of these historical connections, and here we are getting away from history and into my personal opinions, it is now the "safe" colour. In this age of fear it is best to not stand out or show any personality. Monet or Gauguin seem relegated to the category of historical lunatics. Who has the guts to embrace the palettes of such greats? Not many. Watered down pastels are becoming the norm. Even text is grey despite function dictating otherwise. Most, and on the web it is particularly bad, would rather go with a really bland and tasteless baby blue so as to not make any waves or stand out in any way. There is comfort in hiding in a crowd. I personally think it is pathetic because it shows a complete lack of education regarding colour history or arts in general. What has happened is that the "meaning" of blue has, in fact, completely reversed.

carlsson
December 2nd, 2010, 01:02 AM
However I would imagine both one and two people have become royally upset at BSOD. :-D

What about frequencies, do blueish colours lay in a frequency span that is particularly pleasant to the human eye while retaining contrasts? I think most dark green, red, yellow-brown or even violet colours would be harder to look at for a long period of time. There got to be some physio-behavior related research on this.

mark66j
December 2nd, 2010, 03:40 AM
One idea: For a long time LEDs were almost always red or yellow, and blue ones were hard to manufacture. Then they figured out how to make blue LEDs cheaply, and a lot of computer makers started putting them in everything (Dell in particular) because they looked "new and cool". So I think it became a trendy color.

As for TV I also think dark blue is often used instead of black because it looks better than dark gray, and real black causes problems with NTSC signals (not sure about PAL). TV hosts usually wore blue instead of black suits, for instance. The worst thing to wear was herringbone or other black/white combos which would "strobe" horribly. I think it was also trickier to do deeper shades of red than of blue. NTSC was the worst color TV standard of them all, or so I've read.

Unknown_K
December 2nd, 2010, 05:14 AM
Why is blue the color of the rich when Purple was the color of Royalty?

commodorejohn
December 2nd, 2010, 05:18 AM
Some interesting theories here. I think that for the TV show examples, though, it's less about thematics and more about Hollywood being addicted to teal-and-orange color grading (http://theabyssgazes.blogspot.com/2010/03/teal-and-orange-hollywood-please-stop.html) because it's an easy way to make things high-contrast without having to actually turn on their tiny little corporate media executive brains.

nige the hippy
December 2nd, 2010, 05:55 AM
I'm with the blue LED camp.

Chuck(G)
December 2nd, 2010, 08:03 AM
NTSC was the worst color TV standard of them all, or so I've read.

Quite probably true--a standing joke was that NTSC stood for "Never the same color". But even today, you can go to a big-box store and look at the wall of LCD TVs and observe some pretty profound color differences between various models, so we're not out of the woods yet.

Ole Juul
December 2nd, 2010, 01:55 PM
Why is blue the color of the rich when Purple was the color of Royalty?

Very good question! I think it is hard to keep this history coherent because of different places and different eras. However, the history of blue of which I talk is European and pertaining to pigment. In clothing we have another history because we're talking about dyes. Remember that having choices in colours which are independent of naturally occurring materials (let alone pure light as in RGB production) was not an option. Up until recently we were talking about materials - and we still do in the arts.

Purple goes back a long ways. The royal purple of the ancients goes back to at least 1600 BC. It is produced from marine molluscs and is (was) very expensive. The Roman empire is where we see the the purple togas and such. This was not something that everyone could afford. It is also known as Tyrian purple. Anyway, I think that purple and blue can indeed vie for a similar place of prestige. It is simply a matter of time and culture.

vwestlife
December 2nd, 2010, 02:01 PM
As for TV I also think dark blue is often used instead of black because it looks better than dark gray, and real black causes problems with NTSC signals (not sure about PAL). TV hosts usually wore blue instead of black suits, for instance. The worst thing to wear was herringbone or other black/white combos which would "strobe" horribly. I think it was also trickier to do deeper shades of red than of blue. NTSC was the worst color TV standard of them all, or so I've read.
The digital comb filtering in modern TV sets has virtually eliminated the visual differences between NTSC and PAL. Now any difference you see is simply a matter of resolution: NTSC is commonly 525 lines (480 effective), while PAL is commonly 625 lines (576 effective).

Comb filtering greatly reduces the strobing and "dot crawl" problems, but once flat-panel TVs became commonplace, the CRT sets that were still on the market started cheapening-out by leaving out the comb filter and using a cheap, large-dot-pitch picture tube, resulting in image quality no better than a 1960s GE PortaColor. And now that HDTV is commonplace, even flat-panel TVs have begun cheapening-out on the circuitry they use to reproduce standard-definition video sources, giving similarly poor image quality.

Anyway, maybe TV producers love blue because they're all aging computer geeks and remember the days when blue was the de facto standard DOS background color:

http://www2.purplecow.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/wordperfect-51-dos.png

I think the reason for that was because on a typical color CGA monitor, with coarse dot-pitch and flickery 60 Hz refresh rate, blue is really the only background color (besides black) that is acceptable to look at for long periods of time. There were scientific studies done to prove that the green and amber phosphors typically used by monochrome CRTs were the least likely to cause eyestrain, but attempting to emulate those colors on a CGA monitor just looks terrible, so they had to pick something which was visually comfortable, but still vibrant enough to let everyone know you were using a color monitor: thus blue!

Chuck(G)
December 2nd, 2010, 02:08 PM
A light grey background with black lettering works very well; other colors for lettering show up nicely--including white.

Oddly, our color graphics displays are singularly bad for rendering text that needs to be kerned (most proportional fonts). In the sub-pixel range you get all sorts of weird effects, such as color fringing.

At one time, Intel made a CRT controller chip that performed kerning by varying the horizontal sweep frequency. I never got see a display using it, but I suspect the text quality was very good indeed.

I'm pretty happy with the "Pumpkin" color scheme on Windows--black lettering stands in strong contrast against it.

Ole Juul
December 2nd, 2010, 02:13 PM
What about frequencies, do blueish colours lay in a frequency span that is particularly pleasant to the human eye while retaining contrasts? I think most dark green, red, yellow-brown or even violet colours would be harder to look at for a long period of time. There got to be some physio-behavior related research on this.

Blue does not focus well because it is at the end. Remember that the eye is not achromatic. Green is where the eye is most sensitive and is right in the middle of our sensitivity range. When you put red and blue (the extremes) next to each other you can see the problem with trying to focus on both. I really vibrates!

I think blue can actually be a very exciting colour because of it's physical place in our sensitivity. That is physics and does not change. Psychology changes over time and cultures.

Anyway, to keep this thread on topic as a rant against blue, I would like to point out that right now we are seeing a trend and fashion. Going with popular trends is a sign of weakness. A person of strong personal vision does not follow fashion. I am happy to see that there are always a few people who have the guts to rise above the crowd and produce something of their own. Is it unfortunate, or are we actually lucky, that they don't design web pages? Perhaps time will tell.

vwestlife
December 2nd, 2010, 02:14 PM
And now there's some brand (I forget which) pushing their "Quattron" LCD TVs, which use red, green, blue, and yellow pixels. So maybe we'll start seeing more yellow on TV, in order to take advantage of this.

Ole Juul
December 2nd, 2010, 02:33 PM
vwestlife:There were scientific studies done to prove that the green and amber phosphors typically used by monochrome CRTs were the least likely to cause eyestrain, but attempting to emulate those colors on a CGA monitor just looks terrible, so they had to pick something which was visually comfortable, but still vibrant enough to let everyone know you were using a color monitor: thus blue!

I think your explanation of why blue got used for computer screens is bang on. It really is the only colour choice in that situation. I've experimented with this a lot because I don't like that blue, and in the end I've had to give in to the facts - at least as far as my personal physiology is concerned.

That fact is what made me prefer monochrome screens and also never move into Windows. I still prefer DOS with a green MDA - although the amber is a nice feeling to me.

Regarding the studies about eyestrain, I don't think people care. The feelings we get from different colour stimuli is both personal and cultural. Like I said earlier, most people are not really visually educated and so they just do what they do without any intellectual involvement or informed choice on their part.


Chuck(G): I'm pretty happy with the "Pumpkin" color scheme on Windows--black lettering stands in strong contrast against it.

Now there's a man with guts! Good for you! Yes, contrast is an important part of clarity. And clarity once used to play an important role in the communication of information. Not any more. :(

barythrin
December 2nd, 2010, 03:54 PM
Interestingly I googled "why csi use blue" and first thing I see are questions about the "blue" lights they use. That's actually a good speculation though, they do use UV lights a lot in that show to find fingerprints, blood, etc. It could just be a coincidence for that show.

Other than that I think the forums and sites are following Windows color schemes (I could be wrong).. which of course goes back into history and IBM and color screens, etc. I agree that a color monitor or computer would benefit to have a non-black value to show it supports color. Commodore chose that too. I would assume just to show a color that isn't commonly thought as phosphor.

There's certainly some studies on there though on what colors are easy on eyes and possibly what colors have common calming affects (if you remember the colors of McDonald's you'd find research indicating that orange and yellow make people hurry and hungry (http://articles.cnn.com/2010-04-30/living/noisy.restaurant.business_1_fine-dining-restaurant-restaurant-reviews-restaurant-critic-frank-bruni?_s=PM:LIVING) though I suppose it could be something simpler such as mustard and ketchup colors make you think of a quick hamburger and fries.

I always found the oddest thing that supposedly we can't make the color "true cyan"??? .. that blows my mind and how does one know such a color exists. There are illusions (http://homepages.inf.ed.ac.uk/amos/visualillusion.html) for that one.

My other instant guess would be firing one gun (blue) might save electricity? but obviously you'd follow that with others. I do know that the pumpkin as you're finding similar to amber would be easiest on your eyes for night viewing. I have one monitor which I love which has a button on the front to change it from regular color, IBM color, monochrome, and amber for those very reasons. If you were using it at night you could change it to amber only and help your eyes out.

Chuck(G)
December 2nd, 2010, 04:31 PM
The human brain is a very strange place to live. Here's (http://www.aw3rd.us/scief/colorviz.htm) a discussion of something that got me excited when I was in high school. It's hard to find much on the subject today.
http://www.aw3rd.us/scief/colorviz%20pix/colorviz6.jpg

strollin
December 2nd, 2010, 07:14 PM
All of your theories are wrong. It's just because the color blue is "purty"! :-)