Internet mass hysteria – 50 Shades of #TheDress

Not withstanding the fact the Internet is a great place to assemble for hysteria, ‪#‎thedress‬ is all the things people say it was and not at all because of the way our eyes and brains interpret information.

The image that sparked the debate
The image that sparked the debate

For a start there are technical issues with the image taken, it is subject to lighting issues – the white balance isn’t taken into account, which has a significant impact on the colours contained within an image, but who is going to know anything about that if they have never learned about it? There is also the issue of the various screens out there that people would have been viewing the dress on, making subtle but significant changes to what you see.

The dress taken from the website
The dress and the image taken from the website
50 Shades of dress
50 Shades of dress

Then there is the actual light spectrum and the tiny band which we can see. Millions of colours or variations from a simple set of prime colours we learn about, a handful of names to describe them and our eyes work with red and green (maybe blue too?) The restrictions on our ability to define the colours we see then impacts our ability to reconcile what is there versus what we see.

Which brings me on to my favourite part of all of this; we only see 10% of what’s in front of us and our brains make up the rest using its experience. This is why eye-witness reports are not always reliable and why someone in a gorilla suit can walk across a stage and no one sees him. We can override what see with what we think is there, or by what we think should be there.

For the record, after plugging back deep into the Matrix, I thought it looked gold and blue, but may have been black and white on the assumption the image taken was influenced by the camera settings.

Here another dress that suffered the question of ‘what colour is it?’

The first time I saw the hysteria of colour
The first time I saw the hysteria of colour

Other memes from the Internet over #thedress.

Before 'The Dress' there Timon and Pumba
Before ‘The Dress’ there was Timon and Pumbaa
A dress that caused a real stink when I was a child, the dress worn by Monica Lewinsky

Now if only we can get people to care about and debate issues that are really affecting us with the passion shown over this dress the world might start to see some real change.