Sunday, March 06, 2011

What color is purple?

Watching the Oscars, I was mildly dismayed to see one of presenter Anne Hathaway's gowns described as "purple". I suppose that it was as purple and a purple finch in mating season... but I'd describe that color as dark red... and I might liken it to sun dried tomato.

Monitor resolution can make a major difference, but even though I looked at two TVs side by side with very different color settings, the dress in question was nowhere near the color range that I was taught was purple.

It's the same with my website ( I think it is washed-out purple... a dusty, bloom-on-a-black-grape purple. My webmaster calls the color "blue".

The color I call "Royal Blue" is called purple by some, also.

The thing is, how does anyone really know that anyone else is seeing the same color that one is seeing?
I look at a fuchsia. Unfortunately, its petals are two different shades of purple.... to me: a deep blue-pink, and a reddish violet blue.

I call the predominant color "fuchsia", but am I at odds with the world? It would seem that I am!
Can two people look at the same flower, and see different colors? Or do they see the same colors but give them different names?

Color blindness is a problem in the air force. My father was color blind. He couldn't perceive the difference between red and green. It's surprising he didn't have trouble with traffic lights, isn't it?

Would using a numerical reference help? Every color on the internet does have a number, doesn't it? At least, if we all agreed that we liked #RGB 53, 28, 117  (that may not actually be a color number), we'd all be looking at the same color, even if we saw it differently.

If everyone everywhere (as long as they used our alpha-numeric symbols) learned that #RGB 53, 28, 117
was the color they saw when they looked at #RGB 53, 28, 117 would the language of color be more accurate than it is now?

Does it matter? It might... to scientists, or to computer programmers involved in cloaking technology. A nuance of color might be critical in the diagnosis of an alien rash.

Red is a range of shades. So is green. Think of all the greens in nature! There are hunter-gatherer cultures where the females, who pick wild berries, have an exceptionally large vocabulary of different names for all the different shades of blue. As I recall, the males have a lot of names for the various hues of red.

Look at this cool site:

This colour-lover has a great range of blues!

The problem with writing a science fiction in which futuristic or alien characters said #RGB 53, 28, 117 instead a color name is that the author would have to translate at least once, and the reader might find the code pretentious or annoying.

On the other hand, using codes might be a logical progression, given our American readers' fondness for acronyms and texting.

I was chatting (recording a radio program) with the incredibly witty and wild Jeff Strand yesterday, and also with Blake Crouch whose tersely titled new e-book RUN is just out. Jeff Strand admitted that his long and quirky titles, such as Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary) do not show up well in Kindle sized thumbnails. Jeff suggested that he might simply use the ASIN as his title for his next e-book.

Since I am primarily a Romance author, I made incredulous noises. Jeff and Blake assured me that the average Horror reader is highly intelligent, obsessively numerate, and likely to memorize ISBNs for the coolness of it.

Next time I create a geeky, alien hero, I'll have to think about that!

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