Stop Using Dark Mode
April 25, 2020 3:12 PM   Subscribe

I’m going to preface this by saying I love dark mode. It started with my desktop Kindle app, and as soon as it was rolled out everywhere, I switched everything over to the soothing white-on-black aesthetic. My eyes rejoiced, and I too decried this mad blog calling dark mode a crutch for suckers.

But oh, I have now seen the light.
(Victoria Song, Gizmodo)
posted by Johnny Wallflower (100 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
No
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:19 PM on April 25 [67 favorites]




Stop telling me what I should and shouldn't use.
posted by SansPoint at 3:23 PM on April 25 [48 favorites]


Ugh. White text on black is so much harder on my eyes. I get the love for dark mode, though. We basically spend our waking hours staring straight into one bright light source or another, which isn’t good for you eyes, either. At least I can turn down the brightness of my screen, though. There’s not much I can do about the awfulness of white text on black.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:24 PM on April 25 [15 favorites]


Stop Using Dark Mode

Nope. My SO appreciates it when my insomnia has me reading my Kindle at 3AM.
posted by Splunge at 3:30 PM on April 25 [17 favorites]


Do whatever works for you. Jeez.
posted by runehog at 3:32 PM on April 25 [44 favorites]


you know what's better than dark mode? calibrating your dang monitor so proper black on white text isn't any more than 120 cd/m and of neutral colour balance so it's not like staring into the surface of the sun but just looking at a modestly lit piece of paper.

that's what's better than dark mode. jesus, you people and your thousand nit displays
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:34 PM on April 25 [28 favorites]


Seanmpuckett, tutorial please for those of us with migraines? I just turn the brightness down to minimum and f.lux on max which feels, uh, clunky, to say the least...
posted by brook horse at 3:47 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I used to get really bad eye infections from having my monitor too bright, and rubbing my eyes a bunch... Even involved eye surgery to remove a hardened stye a couple of times! Fun! Turned out lowering the brightness on all of my monitors did the trick.

I currently use dark mode for my code editor (which I probably spend the most time looking at) and nowhere else. It's a good balance, I think.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:50 PM on April 25


𝓬𝓸𝓶𝓲𝓬 𝓼𝓪𝓷𝓼 𝓲𝓼 𝓷𝓸𝓽 𝓪𝓼 𝓫𝓪𝓭 𝓪𝓼 𝔂𝓸𝓾 𝓽𝓱𝓲𝓷𝓴
posted by Fizz at 3:52 PM on April 25 [37 favorites]


calibrating your dang monitor so proper black on white text isn't any more than 120 cd/m and of neutral colour balance so it's not like staring into the surface of the sun

Can I second this several more times? A lot of monitors and TVs come out of the box with the brightness and contrast cranked so high you can't discern anything, and they do it for marketing purposes. Bright, loud displays attract attention, and move units on a showroom floor. I've been getting into photography, and if you want to do anything in lightroom or photoshop and expect prints to look right, you absolutely have to get your monitor at least somewhat calibrated, which always involves turning down the eye-searing brightness.

Everything looks better once you're used to it. It's like listening to music mastered well vs. music mastered to cram maximum loudness into the mix.
posted by mrgoat at 3:54 PM on April 25 [15 favorites]


No.

Bring back LCD night mode, the best display technology of all time.

Fuck your white screen BS. Paper is awesome. Screens, not so much.
posted by mwhybark at 3:59 PM on April 25 [6 favorites]


Just give me an e ink technology that magically updates at 144hz with zero blur.
posted by selfnoise at 4:01 PM on April 25 [19 favorites]


Green text on black or GTFO.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:01 PM on April 25 [80 favorites]


^^ yes
posted by mwhybark at 4:01 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Where is that TTY Metafilter theme, anyway
posted by mwhybark at 4:02 PM on April 25 [7 favorites]


A lot of monitors and TVs come out of the box with the brightness and contrast cranked so high you can't discern anything, and they do it for marketing purposes.

IIRC, if you don't have calibration stuff for yourself, a lot of monitors have an "sRBG" mode that's sort of pre-calibrated. Though that's mostly about colour balance than brightness, which you'll still need to turn down on your own.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:09 PM on April 25


Viva la dark mode!

Also, if you're brightness-sensitive let me put in a quick plug for ClickMonitorDDC, I think I found it recommended somewhere on the Green. It has a lot of features, but I use it exclusively to change the brightness of my external monitors without having to press and hold the physical buttons. It's divine.
posted by matrixclown at 4:15 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


When we were kids and had a Commodore 64 back in the '80s, it was really cool to make the background black and the text green. The we saw a movie where the type on a screen was amber, so we made it that way, and it was even cooler! Then eventually we turned it back to green.
posted by SoberHighland at 4:15 PM on April 25 [16 favorites]


But seriously, Night Shift on iOS works well for me (changes to a warmer color balance) as does reducing the brightness.

One place where night mode is indisputably (?) valuable is dashboard screens like CarPlay. You don’t need your eyes adjusting from the dark road to the bright screen and back.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:16 PM on April 25 [9 favorites]


Amber on bronze was the best.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 4:17 PM on April 25 [22 favorites]


You're doing it wrong.
posted by SoberHighland at 4:18 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


> Can I second this several more times? A lot of monitors and TVs come
> out of the box with the brightness and contrast cranked so high you
> can't discern anything, and they do it for marketing purposes.

Can you recommend a tutorial or piece of software to do this calibration? I literally cannot see most black text on a field of blinding bright white.
posted by dgeiser13 at 4:25 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


Yellow on blue 4 lyfe, for those times I can't manage magenta on yellow. If my retinas ain't bleeding, I ain't reading.

Someone please tell me that the “weird formatting issues when copy-pasting text written in light mode to dark mode” thing from the article isn't real. I mean, text is text is text, and copying styles is fine and dandy, but copying fg/bg colours? That's as nutty as tabs vs spaces and indent wars
posted by scruss at 4:27 PM on April 25 [6 favorites]


sRGB mode uses a painful blue-white colour balance at 6500 Kelvin. You want something around 5000-5500K.

Best way to calibrate a monitor without an actual monitor calibration device (which are cheap but for an item you probably use once is kind of annoying to buy) is to put a piece of paper on your desk, turn on your usual desk lighting e.g. for reading and writing paper on the desk, and try to match the monitor brightness to the paper brightness. This is probably a lot darker than you're used to, but your eyes will thank you. You want reading text on the screen to be like reading a well lit book.

NB sometimes monitor "brightness" is a lie and "contrast" is the actual brightness control. And sometimes there's a "backlight" control that further confuses things. Set everything to the middle of their range, find a nice black and white photo to put on the screen and adjust one setting at a time, looking for the one that doesn't hide the highlights or shadows of the image but does change the overall light level coming out of the screen.

For colour balance, this can be harder, but if there are separate settings for R, G and B in your monitor, start at 100% for all of them and turn the B down like 10-15% and the G down like 5% and that will help enormously. Whites should be natural and not painful to look at.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:30 PM on April 25 [29 favorites]


Plato amber, oh hell yes. But I still go green on black at every opportunity.
posted by mwhybark at 4:31 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Ha ha yellow on blue, DOS WordPerfect, when SLC looked set to lead the world in personal computing. Hey look, there’s a lot of yellow and blue all around us!
posted by mwhybark at 4:34 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Thankfully, when I had work in the before times it was alwaysblack background because....drafting. Of course one can change it to white background but it's impossible for old dogs to "see" it.

With the black background one automatically knows that the red line equals heavy; the white or cyan is text; blue is light lineweight.... Or, depending, per which office because they don't use the same pen tables for line weights. One has to be multilingual.
posted by mightshould at 4:47 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


For text editing/coding/terminals, Solarized Light is where it's at. Good contrast with a light but not blinding white background.
posted by tocts at 4:51 PM on April 25 [19 favorites]


Installing mauve mode just to spite all you binary black and white dogmatists.
posted by sammyo at 5:10 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


Before I got my own Mac in '89, one of my UD courses was assigned lab time in a rather hidden lab of IBM PC RTs with monochrome CRTs, my first extended exposure to the correct way of using PCs.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 5:10 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


Screw the Professional White Background, when are we getting Hot Dog Stand mode on MetaFilter?
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 5:12 PM on April 25 [19 favorites]


We had a lot of wyse-150's connected to unix boxes, and they came in either amber, green, or white (on black).
posted by mikelieman at 5:16 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Does Dark Mode Really Save Battery on Your Phone?

Yes, especially if it uses an OLED display. With an LED backlit LCD the difference tends to be negligible at any useful brightness.

On a TV or desktop monitor, the brightness control sets how bright white is while the contrast control sets the black level. (the brightness of black) Thankfully most new ones have a "cinema" mode that sets brightness and contrast to reasonable values and fixes the crappy color balance most ship with so that they look "better" than the one next to it in the store.

FWIW, if you care for color accuracy, you want the 6500K white. Of course, then you miss out on a lot of the color confusion meme fun. That's one of the nice things about Android having a built in night mode, actually. That way you can have the blue filter effect when you need it and still have correct colors the rest of the time.

And yeah, I'm a huge dark mode person. Blame the Linux console. Whether my phosphors were green, amber, white, or RGB, it was always light text on a dark background. I would complain bitterly when people made my IRC client bold some text. It was utterly painful, just like a default Word document has been since Word for Windows became a thing. The DOS version was a lot easier on the eyes.
posted by wierdo at 5:17 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Dark mode, light mode, deep dish pizza Comic Sans
We didn't start the fire
posted by Beardman at 5:23 PM on April 25 [19 favorites]


I seem to remember old 8086 laptops with LCD screens that could display 640x200 at 4 colors -- you'd get grey, blue and some kinda amber. Add the clicking and clacking of the hard drive arm and you've got yourself a Saturday night.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:25 PM on April 25 [5 favorites]


What kills me about Dark Mode is now every single app has to be designed for two completely opposite color schemes. It wasn't bad enough apps had to work on screens of varying sizes and display resolutions, now they have to work with both white and black backgrounds.

Gotta say I do love the OLED screen on my Pixel 3 though. Which pretty much demands a dark mode, since black = very low power.
posted by Nelson at 5:34 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Turn-ons: Neutral color balance, dark text on light background.

Turn-offs: light text on dark background, blue filter/amber-shifted "night mode", pina coladas, getting caught in rain.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:34 PM on April 25 [5 favorites]


I spend a significant amount of time on a terminal with a standard *nix command line. Definitely must be a black background. But in a GUI for the web, a white background is the standard. Both work in their own way...
posted by jim in austin at 5:36 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


I do enjoy the fact that directly under the paragraph where the author notes that they first encountered a problem dealing with the dark modes in Slack, there's a blurb-link to another Gizmodo article titled, "Hell Yes, Slack Just Dropped a Dark Mode for Desktop."
posted by soundguy99 at 5:47 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


I spend a lot of working time in a Linux console and it "needs" to be white on black for me to function. But, everything else looks awful to me if it's not black on white and the cult of dark mode confuses me.
posted by 3j0hn at 5:48 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


We have a choice now. No need to blackball either option.
posted by Cranberry at 5:56 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


On every computer that is "mine", I set Command Prompt windows to black sans-serif text on white background. Watching peoples' ability to function fall to pieces when they're presented with an unexpected color choice is just icing on the cake.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:58 PM on April 25 [7 favorites]


I think it’s telling that the author mentions switching back to light mode and suddenly color schemes were more clear. Because I spend almost all my time in dark mode (“smart invert colors” on apple devices) due to vision issues where I find fields of white incredibly uncomfortable as well as harder to pick out letter shapes reliably (at least I still have usable vision still which isn’t at all guaranteed). I routinely find websites and tools where in invert colors I can’t even see where form controls or other UI elements are because the contrast isn’t sufficient. I’ll switch back to “regular” mode briefly to figure things out (yay headaches) but it sucks. Many sites work okay in light mode (for some) but if it’s unusable inverted then you didn’t have enough contrast for accessibility to begin with. Slack has long been a major offender here and it was only in the last 6 months that the iPhone app started obeying the iOS system text size preference. The color schemes were always busted and there’s only one built-in scheme I can use comfortably.

Anyway, point is people should use what they find most comfortable and I wish this discussion would stop being framed as an aesthetic preference. It’s just not for many people.
posted by R343L at 6:14 PM on April 25 [12 favorites]


Screw the Professional White Background, when are we getting Hot Dog Stand mode on MetaFilter?

Ugh. Seeing that combination reminds me of....When I was young and naive and thought a lot less about what I said prior to saying it, I took a "psychology of sexuality" course in college. This was mostly the professor presenting us with as many different provocative topics as he could think of.

One class he had the proprietor of a local adult bookstore/peepshow come in to talk to us about the business of smut. We had time for questions at the end, and I asked "Why is your store sign a garish combination of yellow, red and black?"

Without missing a beat, he said "Well, it got your attention, didn't it?"
posted by Gorgik at 6:14 PM on April 25 [7 favorites]


(Err by “this discussion” I refer to the wider public discourse not this exact discussion on metafilter which had been fine.)
posted by R343L at 6:15 PM on April 25


This was more, "I can't figure out dark mode. Hope me!" than anything to convince me to switch back to light mode.

Her argument that "studies show..." -- well, studies show you're more effective reading off paper than a screen, too, but I don't see you running for that.
posted by dobbs at 6:29 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


"Running for paper" is my next sockpuppet name.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:43 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Installing mauve mode just to spite all you binary black and white dogmatists.

Rebecca is nice in emacs.

Ha ha yellow on blue, DOS WordPerfect

Ah, no: Amstrad CPC. Based on a NASA study apparently.

But the colour of the old web was black on light grey, not white. Fire up Mosaic and dig the greyness.
posted by scruss at 6:47 PM on April 25 [9 favorites]


> NB sometimes monitor "brightness" is a lie and "contrast" is the actual brightness control.
Traditionally, dating right back to the first days of CRT TVs, the "brightness" control set the black level and the "contrast" control set the span between black and peak white. It actually makes much more sense in that context, and as far as I know (I haven't had much to do with monitors in the last couple of years) is still the 'correct' way to adjust monitors - though displays with adjustable backlighting complicate things a bit.

For those with Macs, running through the calibration process in 'Preferences - Displays - Colour - Calibrate' in conjunction with the "piece of paper" mentioned by seanmpuckett can, with a bit of care, get very close to technically optimum results at least for black-greyscale-white levels. The Windows equivalent used to be terrible, but it may have improved over the years.
posted by Pinback at 7:04 PM on April 25 [6 favorites]


I just dislike universal light and dark modes without the ability to switch apps on a granular basis. On Android I preferred it when the UI could be set to dark (as a separate option) without Gmail and every widget being in dark mode as well (I'm using a Pixel 2 with latest stock android, which switched over to global light and dark settings last year).
posted by Pryde at 7:26 PM on April 25


I thought I liked dark mode, but this thread has taught me that real satisfaction can only ever truly come from smugly chumming the waters just a little with a few terms of art dropped out of context and then returning with a half-full bucket. The more you learn!
posted by invitapriore at 7:31 PM on April 25 [15 favorites]


I use e ink for most night reading, because I really like dark on a parchment colour and actual parchment is expensive.

Since my concussion I can't do a small bright screen in a dark room. All the other lights need to be on when I watch tv. Both dark and light mode on my phone suck. Movie theatres, back when those were a thing, seemed to be big enough that it was ok.
posted by jeather at 7:35 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


For text editing/coding/terminals, Solarized Light is where it's at. Good contrast with a light but not blinding white background.

i blame your mother did a great and good thing.
posted by zamboni at 8:14 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


Hell, half the stuff online is unreadable to me because of light gray letters on a white background. I know it's just to get back at us half blind boomers.
posted by Grumpy old geek at 8:39 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


The Stylus browser extension and a customised Global dark style are essential imo. (Hardest parts were working out how to invert the colours on MathJax equations, and removing the transparent overlays many video players used to use, which G.D.S. would turn opaque.)
posted by ver at 8:40 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Someone please tell me that the “weird formatting issues when copy-pasting text written in light mode to dark mode” thing from the article isn't real. I mean, text is text is text, and copying styles is fine and dandy, but copying fg/bg colours? That's as nutty as tabs vs spaces and indent wars

The explanation is pretty simple, IMHO: it's a clickbait piece that doesn't really address anything to do with web design or standards. Case in point:

The orgiastic frenzy over dark mode is, as far as I can tell, the result of the bandwagon effect: You subconsciously trick yourself into loving dark mode because hey, everyone loves dark mode! This is reinforced by a deluge of glowing media coverage—a lot of which you might find on Gizmodo!—that is further amplified with every new app or operating system that adds the feature. With this month’s release of iOS 13, which sports OS-wide dark mode, we’ve reached near saturation of this design fad.

This was written by someone who knows less than fuck-all about web design, and didn't bother talking to people who do for his content farm piece.

There are web design standards around accessibility. There are various contrast schemes that make it easier for people with low vision -- or even normal vision -- to read things. Full stop. It's a thing, studied and standardized by people who are actually experts on it. The standards aren't perfect, but they're at least a reference point and not random aesthetic preferences.

As jeather points out, and as R34L points out, there are a variety of reasons why people differ when it comes to interacting with on-screen content.

Weird, eh? It's like there are people with a variety of ways of processing the information they need to get from a screen. It's almost like you need to make it...

...accessible? Conforming to a whole range of use cases.

Readability -- whether it's font selection, contrast schemes, or what have you, matters to lots of people.

Does Dark Mode Really Save Battery on Your Phone?

Data point: turning the screen off because you're running a screen reader definitely does!
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:27 PM on April 25 [23 favorites]


For text editing/coding/terminals, Solarized Light is where it's at.

Monokai but yes dark mode is not for white text.
posted by atoxyl at 9:55 PM on April 25


The author never mentions the idea using both dark and light modes, depending on the ambient light. Seems a common alternative now that automatic switching is baked into MacOS, etc. This is how I've been working more and more in recent years, and I don't think I could go back to always one or the other. Dark mode in mid-day light is horrible, and late night coding with light mode is equally bad.

I currently have a pair of preferred light/dark modes in VS Code with a shortcut to toggle between (and before Catalina's auto dark mode, also had an easy-toggle applescript set up for Mojave's dark mode).
posted by p3t3 at 10:56 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


I don't care if there's a light mode or a dark mode, as long as there is some reasonable contrast.

I wish i had a sandwich for every time I've had to ask the designer to maybe rethink the gray text on a white background. Looks great on their perfectly-calibrated monitor under ideal lighting conditions! Looks illegible on your bog standard laptop with who-knows-what smudged on the screen. This is somehow a difficult thing to explain sometimes. "What's accessibility, precious? Can we eats it?"
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:30 PM on April 25 [9 favorites]


Wow, monochrome monitors. Another long forgotten thing the kids will never believe was real.

The author never mentions the idea using both dark and light modes, depending on the ambient light.


Oh god no. My brain cannot deal with switching. It’s like using an entirely unfamiliar computer. I still use MeFi Classic.

It’s purely preference for those of us with relatively average vision. Dark looks pretty good on Windows 10, in fact it’s currently my favorite environment, aesthetically. Dark on Mac OS is a goddamn travesty.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:32 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


+1 for dark mode. I am so used to a colored background and white lettering from this site. I use the original or old color scheme. Blue background, white letters. Green background, white letters.

I do not begrudge anyone their scheme, except when I am was on a redeye flight and the cat next to me used light mode at 4:00am. Why even on your phone at that point much less using light mode?
posted by AugustWest at 11:43 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


LOL at the “studies find light mode is actually better for reading comprehension” line from the article. That road leads to madness. Soon you'll be configuring your browser with a custom style sheet to format all text as light-gray Comic Sans on a white background in a small font size, which is also proven to improve reading comprehension (by forcing you to read more slowly and spend more effort comprehending the text).
posted by Syllepsis at 12:01 AM on April 26 [4 favorites]


Dark mode, light mode and high contrast modes are accessibility features and you can't convince me otherwise. An app that doesn't support all three is less accessible than it could be.
posted by Aleyn at 12:06 AM on April 26 [9 favorites]


Oh god no. My brain cannot deal with switching. It’s like using an entirely unfamiliar computer. I still use MeFi Classic.

Same here for MeFi Classic. Light/dark toggling mostly works for me in text-editors, which I end up having to stare at for long hours. Using a light/dark theme pair for the editor has become almost a kind of productivity hack. If I've been staring at the editor for hours and getting tired in evening, toggling to dark feels like magically unlocking an extra hour of energy. Same feeling in reverse when too lazy to toggle back for half the morning.

But yes, doing this for casual browsing around the web or some other apps might drive me nuts too. I guess people who read a lot of e-books might also have a toggle routine though.
posted by p3t3 at 12:16 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


I find that I prefer dark mode whenever possible. I’ve bookmarked some of the posts above about adjusting contrast on my monitor. We use zendesk at work and it does not have a dark mode. I’ve tried the various browser extensions that try to give it but it never works quite right.

Slack and chrome dark modes are amazing. I don’t know how anyone looks at the dev console with the white background without burning their eyeballs. I was so happy when that was able to be changed.

My previous futzing w brightness contrast etc has left me just as confused. I can’t see it if it’s not bright but it hurts my eyes. If I lower the brightness, I just end up squinting and leaning forward a lot.

I love the white on black kindle scheme. It’s amazing.

I have a pretty bad astigmatism in one eye and very near sighted in the other and I’ve often wondered if the astigmatism contributes to my brightness issues. If I don’t have my contacts in or glasses on, any light sources looks like halos.
posted by affectionateborg at 12:17 AM on April 26


LOL at the “studies find light mode is actually better for reading comprehension” line from the article.

To be fair, it’s not at all an article but mostly a puffed up screed because he doesn’t like how Slack looks. Not much there at all.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:10 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


this discussion made me realize my laptop brightness was turned up to 100% for some reason (probably "trying to see literally anything while playing Skyrim") so thank you everyone
posted by taquito sunrise at 1:19 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


Dark Mode: if your phone has an OLED display (and you'll know because black is a true black), dark mode is definitely a battery saver. I absolutely love OLED screens and can't wait until I can afford an OLED television.

Monitor calibration: I don't spend nearly as much time at a computer monitor as I used to, but in the past I found hardware color calibration totally worth it. Even more so for my televisions, which especially back in the CRT days were always garbage out of the box.

I've got a couple of old Datacolor SpyderPros that are very outdated, mostly the software but also the sensor, but I've not gotten around to buying anything new. If I used my pc more, I'd get something. I think the consumer and prosumer models range from $80 or so to several hundred. Partly for comfort, but especially for accurate color reproduction, it's worth it.

That said, there are some pure software tools you can use to roughly calibrate your monitor.

As others have mentioned, the proper white point in degrees kelvin for your viewing environment is very important for comfort, as well as for sleep-cycle influence. But that has a lot to do with the lighting in your environment. 6500K is sunlight, but if your lighting is incandescent (or faux incandescent) white, 6500K will be quite blueish. So for office/home lighting, even as low as 3000K-ish is more appropriate. Flourescent lights only seem blue compared to incandescents, they're still much warmer than the 6500K overcast daylight standard. But LCD backlighting can be much bluer than 6500K, up to almost 10,000K!

Your perceptual system will always adjust your perception of white to whatever the ambient illumination color temperature is—what a sheet of white paper is reflecting, your brain will set as white and adjust everything around that. It's a versatile biological system, but given a technological world with artificial imagery and artificial illumination, and mutiple versions side-by-side, things can get confused. Also, the actual illumination color temperature does act as a cue to our brains for setting the sleep cycle. So this is why phone/TV LCD screens set at especially high kelvin whitepoint temperatures can cause insomnia, thus why lowering the whitepoint to something "warmer" at night is a recent option/suggestion.

But the human eye itself is optimized for the spectrum of light emitted by the Sun and filtered through the Earth's atmosphere and diffused by clouds—and that's the 6500K. That's why it's sort of the ideal and the standard around which adjustments are made.

You ideally want the blackest blacks and the brightest white possible, which is why I like OLED so much (because the blacks are very important to me). But that's not the same thing as saying that a huge range is comfortable! What's comfortable for staring at a display all day may be limiting that contrast range. Personally, I'd think that would best be the responsibility of the UI and not the display itself, and relative to content.

Modern screens, whether they are handheld devices or monitors or televisions, are leaps and bounds better than they were just fifteen years ago. These days it's less about what a display is capable of than it is how it's adjusted and used—so the "best" experience depends upon adjusting the UI and displays to the environment you use it and how you use it. But this also means these adjustments can be very far from what is either comfortable or useful. It's worth taking some time to learn how to get the best display out of your device for you, particularly with regard to how and where you use it.

E ink and ebooks: I cannot stand to read books on a typical display. E ink is far more comfortable to me, and to my surprise, the addition of in-built surface illumination as introduced with the Kindle Paperwhite and others makes it even better, though introduces the whitepoint concerns. I want 660dpi, 10-bit color e ink diplays for reading. Or, hell, imagine such displays with very low latency!

Future displays are going to very thin and flexible very-high resolution, very-low latency OLED displays, and/or very-high resolution e ink (or otherwise reflective), low latency, high-contrast displays, also possibly thin. These technologies will probably mature just when my eyesight will be failing, because I'm old. One of the worst parts of being late middle-aged is realizing I won't live to see many technological and scientific advances I've been anticipating for many years.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:53 AM on April 26 [8 favorites]


In younger days I liked dark screens, but now all I can see is negatives of the screen on the wall. I stick with white documents now.
posted by readyfreddy at 4:03 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


MeFi classic forever! I also use white text on medium blue background for powerpoint slides.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:37 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


yellow on blue

Turbo Pascal 6 FOR LIFE
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:44 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


Interesting thread, and if nothing else it inspired me to look through my monitor's menus and activate "comfort mode". It actually is easier on the eyes. Thanks, Dell!
posted by Harald74 at 6:13 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


I work in a windowless sound studio and Dark Mode has been a major leap in eye comfort for me. f.lux is essential too.
posted by Evstar at 6:45 AM on April 26


I absolutely love OLED screens and can't wait until I can afford an OLED television

Yeah, the black levels are great, but they still have ghosting/burn in issues for those of us who get too easily distractible. Plus the individual LEDs literally wear out and get dimmer over a not nearly long enough time for a display in heavy use. If you want something to really lust over, laser projectors are quite nice looking. Too bad I'd have to sell body parts to afford one.

FWIW, ColorHCFR will happily use your old colorimeters. I used to have a Spyder and an i1 Display2 (I think?). The i1 had a much better sensor, though both are just fine in practical terms.
posted by wierdo at 6:47 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


Damnit Fizz! You leave Cosmic Sand alone!
posted by evilDoug at 6:50 AM on April 26


Very well, dark mode for some, miniature American flags for others.
posted by Mayor West at 7:45 AM on April 26 [8 favorites]


Ctrl-F "astigmatism" ... hmmm.

Use the mode that works best for you. :)
posted by introp at 8:06 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Use the mode that works best for you. :)
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:08 AM on April 26 [4 favorites]


I'll just add this to the long list of G/O media posts that fall under the "Stop liking what I don't like" category.
posted by bawanaal at 9:31 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


Controversial opinion piece leads to opinionated controversy.
posted by furtive at 9:37 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


Someone please tell me that the “weird formatting issues when copy-pasting text written in light mode to dark mode” thing from the article isn't real.

I believe what she means is sometimes when you cut something from a colored background (text on a black background, for instance) and paste it into a white background, the background color appears. For instance, cutting from Google Keep in dark mode to Gmail in light mode places white text on a black background.

The solution is to press cntrl+shift+V for paste instead of just cntrl+V. The former pastes plain text. The latter pastes rich text (which can include things besides just text). Note that in doing so, you'll also lose font sizes, bold, etc.
posted by dobbs at 10:16 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


>Turbo Pascal 6 FOR LIFE

my first paid work after college was coding in brief.exe.

this was almost pre-WWW, certainly pre-google, pre-SO, so it was just me pushing and debugging new code all day every day in yellow on blue, so yeah.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 10:26 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


I still use MeFi Classic.

I've been using the Classic theme for so long (I thought), I'd forgotten that there are other options. But it turns out I've been using "Modern Dark", which also has a blue background.
posted by Surely This at 10:31 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


Oh. I get it now.

This whole time I thought “Dark Mode” was when I sit by candle light, scowling in the shadows, with my hair slicked back brooding like Glenn Danzig listening to Bauhaus and petting a black cat.

That’s still okay, though, right?
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 10:42 AM on April 26 [6 favorites]


my first paid work after college was coding in brief.exe

Brief by UnderWare! My favorite feature of that was column cut-and-paste.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:48 AM on April 26


The further you go from green text on an Apple //e screen the further you get from God's love.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:53 AM on April 26 [9 favorites]


For instance, cutting from Google Keep in dark mode to Gmail in light mode places white text on a black background.

What the fuck?
posted by jeather at 11:21 AM on April 26 [4 favorites]


The kindle app does light mode, dark mode, or sepia, which is brown text on an off white background. I wish there were more sepia modes. It’s the easiest on my eyes.
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:55 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


Heh, I just installed Desktop Dimmer (deb/ubuntu) because my screen was still too bright even at the lowest setting and with redshift installed. They all seem to play ok together so I can get my screen super dim now for night viewing.

Annoyingly it doesn't seem to do anything for the cursor or any menu bar notificatons but I think that's a GTK/gnome/unity issue.

Still looking for a red/monochrome night vision or astronomer mode for Ubuntu that filters out everything but red, the way that F.Lux used to be able to do in Windows. That red only night vision mode is great for late night viewing, especially outside on a porch or whatever so you don't blow out your night vision.
posted by loquacious at 12:00 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Amber on bronze was the best.

This has inspired me to dust off an old favorite: Cool Retro Term + elinks
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 12:03 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


So, so beautiful...
posted by thatwhichfalls at 1:13 PM on April 26


not MODIST
posted by a humble nudibranch at 4:57 PM on April 26


I seem to remember that Amiga Workbench 1.x used blue, white, black and orange due to some color study.
posted by rfs at 5:56 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


In the old, analogue days you could make red mode on the hardware level by just pulling the G and B wires from the monitor cable plug, loquacious.
posted by Harald74 at 11:36 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]


Old-fashioned green or amber monitor were that colour due to some properties of the phosphorous coating, I guess? Not carefully picked after reviewing the available colour science...
posted by Harald74 at 11:37 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]


The copy/paste includes formatting deal also happens in Azure DevOps, which makes it "fun" to work on tickets. In light mode, I'd never notice, but in dark mode, suddenly there's a block of black text on white in a sea of soothing dark mode.
posted by XtinaS at 3:01 AM on April 27


Can't use a terminal without a black background.

Can't use an IDE without a white one (these days, anyway; getting old is bollocks)
posted by ephemerae at 5:18 AM on April 27


mods, please annotate every comment in this thread with the user's selected MetaFilter theme
posted by Phssthpok at 11:11 AM on April 27 [3 favorites]


ha HA i use a custom stylish mode that makes EVERYTHING DARK track THAT
posted by XtinaS at 2:05 PM on April 27


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