>Blackle is a Google Custom Search engine, operated by Heap Media, whose selling point is to behave exactly as a plain Google search would, but with a grey-on-black colour scheme. It was launched in January 2007 in response to a blog post claiming that a
Black Google would save 3,000 Megawatt-hours a year, on the basis that displaying a web page with a white background on a typical screen clocks in at around 74 watts, compared to 59 watts for a predominantly black page, and that Google's search pages are some of the most-viewed pages on the web. (The post's estimate was later reduced to a less sensational 750MWh.) Blackle's front page has a running estimate of their users' total energy savings to date (519kWh at the time of writing).
>On the face of it, this might seem like a pretty good idea. Folks can change their home page and browser search engine to Blackle, and thus help save the world with very little effort, and Heap Media can take the moral high ground while sharing in Google's advertising revenue. Then again, seven months later, an entry on the Official Google Blog™ noted that, while the claimed energy savings hold for CRT monitors, displaying black versus white on a TFT screen makes only a tiny difference in consumption — often in the opposite direction — and that three quarters (and rising) of the world's displays are flat panels.
>However, it's pretty clear that Blackle is a gimmick, not something that will actually solve any energy or environmental crises. Screens may spend a reasonable chunk of their lives displaying search engines, but they spend the majority of their lives showing every other application or page people use. More to the point, what's on the screen is trivial compared to the fact that they're on in the first place. Looking around any office at lunchtime, you'll see tens of computers casually drawing exquisitely-rendered 3D
screensavers, their backlights glowing and their CPUs pegged, for no real benefit. Spending the necessary few seconds to choose a blank screensaver, tell the screen to turn itself off after five minutes and the computer to go to sleep after twenty is obviously a better use of that time than
>switching to a different shade of search engine
>. And whether your interest in energy efficiency is for environmental or financial reasons, fixing up your home insulation, replacing light bulbs, and the like are at least as important as your computing habits.
>While Blackle is irrelevant in itself, one could argue that the brief period it enjoyed in the media limelight and as a topic of conversation over the summer of 2007 served to make people realise that computers aren't zero-cost. (Blackle itself suggests that seeing it daily
reminds us that we need to keep taking small steps to save energy, even if the actual energy savings are negligible, but I think you'd tune it out pretty quickly.) That said, there's a real issue that inconsequential toys like this are more appealing to those looking to save the world than actually altering their lifestyles in significant ways, because of the common inability — or
> — to appreciate the scales involved.
>On a lighter (sorry) note, I'm happy to report that if you so wish, you can blind yourself with a pinker spin-off.