Yesterday evening I saw a tweet zip by in which some very smart people I know and respect appeared to be arguing about the color of a dress. It seemed like a weird thing, so I went and looked
and saw what appeared to be a white and gold dress. No big deal. But, other people insisted that it was blue and black. Vehemently. At first I thought it was a joke. Or an optical illusion. Or maybe it depended on your monitor. But I called over a colleague here in the office, and she swore that it was blue and black. And I was 100% sure that it was white and gold. If you somehow live under a rock, here's the image:
We now know the "truth" (sort of) -- which is that the dress itself really is blue and black, but thanks to the lighting and some odd visual tricks it appears white and gold to a large part of the population. For what it's worth, many people report that after a period of time it switches, and that's true for me too. Late last night I took one last look (after everyone else in my family swore that it was blue and black) and I saw it blue and black. Amusingly, at almost exactly the same time, my wife suddenly saw it as white and gold. My mother-in-law suggested we both need to seek mental help. There are fights like this going on all over the internet, with lots of people trying to decipher why this image seems to work this way. So why are we writing about it here? Because it's Fair Use Week
, and what a great
fair use story.
This image isn't just being showed everywhere, it's being modified, flipped, adjusted, poked and prodded as people discuss it in all sorts of ways (comment and criticism). And it's all fair use. Take, for example, our own Leigh Beadon, who put forth on Twitter a theory about why different people see it in different ways:
In our internal chat, he was also submitting additional images as he played with the image. Take, for example, this one, where he played with the brightness levels:
And tons of others have weighed in as well. Even software maker Adobe got into the discussion
And someone else posted a helpful video modifying it:
Vice has an amazing story in which they present the image to a color vision expert
who is so stumped he admits he may give up trying to cure blindness to devote the rest of his life to understanding the dress. The folks over at Vox both insist that the color changing can't be explained
and that it can be
(journalism!). The folks at Deadspin say you're all wrong and the dress is actually blue and brown
. Almost all of these are using not just versions of the image, but modified ones as well, to try to demonstrate what they're talking about.
And there's been no talk about copyright. Because we don't need to be discussing copyright, because this is all fair use
. Last night, some were pointing out that this was such an "internet" story that it's great that it came out on the same day the FCC voted for net neutrality, but I say it's an even better way to close out fair use week, with a great demonstration of why fair use matters.