tisdag 11 mars 2014

Green websites for next generation screens

Yesterday was the deadline for the upcoming ICT4S (ICT for Sustainability) conference that will be held in Stockholm at the end of August. I went to the first ICT4S conference in Switzerland a year ago and wrote a blog post about it a year ago.

Last time around I didn't submit any papers, I just attended the conference. This time I have submitted papers (plural - stay tuned). The paper below builds on the bachelor's thesis that my two co-authors (Edvard Ahlsén and Cecilia Engelbert) wrote last spring, "Green websites for next generation displays: Energy-aware content for OLED-displays". The paper we submitted to ICT4S has been heavily developed though so it's not like it's just a "translation" of their thesis. The new paper doesn't just summarise their work, but rather builds on, extends and contextualises it.

The work effort was really hectic at the end, and especially so yesterday. I worked all evening and wasn't finished by midnight, but now that the paper has been submitted, I seem to be on a "high" and haven't come down yet after the intensive concerted last-minute work effort with the paper. Below is the abstract + an exclusive preview (a paragraph from the conclusions). I guess I'll find out in a month or so whether it has been accepted or not.


Green websites for next generation screens: Energy savings and agency.

Technological developments in screen technologies pitches the thinner, brigher and energy-stingy OLED screen as a possible replacement for today's television, computer and smartphone LCD screens. Since potential energy savings can turn to losses when (the color) white is displayed on OLED screens, there is unfortunately a mismatch between 1) the energy profile of OLED screens and 2) user habits and current webpage design practices. Based on the results of a small pilot study of user acceptance of alterantive color schemes for webapages, we here discuss the underlying question of where it makes the most sense to work towards the realization of these potential energy savings. Are these questions primarily a matter best left to hardware engineers and/or software developers, or, are they instead best solved by content providers and web designers and/or end users?


David MacKay, chief scientific adviser to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change, in his book "Sustainable energy - without the hot air" (2008), criticizes the "small changes can make a big difference" approach to energy savings. His conclusion is instead that "if everyone does a little, we'll achiever only a little". The case of Blackle might provide food for thought when it comes to futile gestures that have a negligible impact. Black background colors can save energy also on LCD screens - even if the effect is far from as pronounced as for OLED screens. A media company, Heap Media, set up the webpage Blackle, a search window that utilizes the Google search engine but that displays a black instead of a white search screen. Blackle claims to have saved 4 MWh since it was launced in the beginning of 2007. That number sounds very impressive until you realize that the average American household consumes almost three times as much electricity every year.

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