Shiny, shiny! The window's behind me...

Has the matte-screen lobby finally given up?

Screen glare

Something for the Weekend, Sir? For reasons too mundane to express, the location at which I have been currently working comprises two adjacent but separate open-plan areas conjoined by a small office occupied by the departmental boss.

The easiest and quickest way to get from one open-plan area to the other is to pass through the little office. In fact, it’s a tiny office, not at all ostentatious. So you can appreciate that the boss is not keen on suffering the constant traffic of staff parading back and forth through his personal space, interrupting meetings, knocking things off his shelves and wafting sheets from his desk by the repetitive opening and closing of the two doors.

It’s not his fault, and everyone likes him, so we have all agreed to do the right thing. The rule is that you can only take the office shortcut when he’s not sitting in it, otherwise you have to leave your current open-plan area by its main entrance, traipse down a few corridors around the outside and then enter the other open-plan area by its main entrance on the opposite side.

It’s not a major imposition and it’s only a 30-second detour but for some staff it does feel funny spending half a minute to get to a GPS location 15 feet away from where they started.

As an outsider, I’ve noticed a couple of things about these two separated open-plan areas. Although everyone works for the same department, one of the areas is significantly quieter than the other with respect to chat and banter. More exceptional still is the fact that the quieter area is kitted out with matte-screen computer displays while the noisy area has only shiny-screen displays.

The Office

“So this is my kingdom: as far as the eye can see.”
Source: BBC

Forgive me, but I want to revive a debate that was doing the rounds in 2009. It’s that old chestnut about glossy screens versus matte screens.

Sorry, I know I ought to concentrate on the latest technology or some gossipy titbit planted in my psyche by a skilled PR operative. Yes, I appreciate that, as an IT journalist, I should flit from one passing fad to the next, forget about the past, and never, ever revisit lingering issues that continue to plague users over a number of years.

Like iOS vs Android or Mac vs Windows, it’s an unwinnable and frankly pointless debate - Linux dudes, you know what I’m talking about. Matte screens are not better than shiny ones, but let me assure you that shiny screens are no better than matte ones either. Ignoring human susceptability to marketing suggestion - shiny is so modern! - the preference for one over the other is about how you use a computer and in what kind of working environment.

Me, I’m in the shiny camp, but you knew that already. How did I know you knew? Easy - because you, reading this, are in the matte camp. I can’t be bothered to explain how I know this, I just do.

I prefer shiny displays because they offer me what I perceive to be clearer definition. When I take the occasional roll of film for processing - some of us still exist - I always request glossy stock. It may be an optical illusion but I feel I can see better through a glossy surface.

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