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Blackle: the dark side of Google

india Updated: Jul 01, 2007 03:12 IST
Mayank Tewari
Mayank Tewari
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Have you too been infected by the Blackle bug? Millions of Internet users are logging on to a new search engine, blackle.com — with a black background — to save a wee bit of energy every time they want to search something on the net.

Search giant Google has customised blackle.com which means that everytime you search on blackle.com, you are using Google’s search prowess.

The argument is simple: An all-white background uses more energy to display than a black background. Now if Google, which gets gets 200 million queries a day, turns its background black, some amount of energy will be saved. So, Blackle is Google gone black.

Having found its way to millions of inboxes through the ubiquitous mail forward route, blackle.com is now riding high on the energy saving movement on the net.

The counter argument

While blackle claims that the search engine saves power since it keeps the screen black, the Internet is flooded with a counter argument suggesting that no power saving takes place by turning the background black.

a) The ‘Blackle’ theory and the calculations are only relevant for CRT monitors — which currently account for 25 per cent of screens globally. b) For those thin LCD monitors there is either no saving or it may even use more energy to display black pixels. c) The energy saving isn’t really that large for CRTs also. The Blackle screen is usually only displayed for a few minutes per session, once a user finds the page their looking for they leave the blackness.

The commercial interest

The search engine was launched by Heap media, an Australian Internet company based in Sydney after an environmental blog treehugger.com published a paper, ‘Black Google Would Save 750 Megawatt-hours a Year’, in January 2007.

“We believe that there is value in the concept because even if the energy savings are small, they all add up. Secondly, we feel that seeing Blackle every time we load our web browser reminds us that we need to keep taking small steps to save energy,” the site claims.

In contrast, over the last few weeks there has been a barrage of contrary comments postings and suggestions. An Australian blog, www.james5.org, rubbishes the Blackle argument and suggests a workable remedy for energy cutting. “A better way to save energy with your monitor is to simply turn it off. Rather then using a screensaver, you can set your options to automatically turn off your monitor when not in use — but it’s better to actually use the monitors off switch. An average CRT uses about 20 watt of power when idle. If your monitor is off for just 15 minutes more per day, you could save 7.3kilowatt hour.”

That’s saving nearly 3 kg of carbon dioxide per year — almost double the entire saving of Blackle to the present.

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