Your Desktop Looks Like…

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Many thanks to everyone who sent in photos for my “What Does Your Desktop Look Like?” post.

Does your desktop photo say something about you? Find out after the break what my friends look at every day when they boot up their computers.

I rarely change my desktop photos – once I find something I like, I tend to stick with it. (Does that make me “committed,” or “reluctant to change”? You decide.) For example, on my old Dell laptop, I used to have a photo of a gargoyle, a carving on the wall at Westminster Abbey in London, UK. I’d taken dozens of pictures of these things, but my chosen gargoyle really stood out to me – its symmetry, its medieval spookiness, its intricacy, and the rich colours of the stone.

That photo was my desktop for four years. I never changed it. Not once. People at the library where I studied during my PhD would often remark on the gargoyle’s persistence: “That’s been there for a long time. Like, back when I started my degree. I’m finishing now. Maybe you should change it?”

On the other hand, my girlfriend, Alice, changes her desktop photos regularly – probably once a month. Her current background is of “Super Grover” (no, I’m not making that up), but for a time it was a photo of our boxer, Lucy.

She looks this pathetic 95% of the time.

There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to what she chooses. Sometimes it’s a photo she’s taken, and other times, it’s a random internet grab.

Some brief internet research has led me to discover that the most common background still in use is the generic Windows XP background, something you’ll all be familiar with.

Personally, I cannot think of anything more dreary and creepy. It looks like the backdrop of the Teletubbies show. Who would want neon green fields glaring at them every day? But that is part of my MO, I suppose: I tend to go for more subdued, darker images, to complement the lighter, highlighted icons on the desktop. I do a lot of work at my computer, and the thought of something beaming bright-rays at my eyes for 12 hours a day is incredibly irritating. Most of the screens we look at tend towards “white” – the background for your Google page, or the “white sheet” of a new page on a word processor. I like to off-set this propensity towards whiteness by adding a contrasting scene: the dark stage upon which anything can be set.

And yet I don’t seem to be in the majority here. If my unofficial sampling of the population is any indication, people tend to prefer images of people (mostly family members), locations or landscapes (usually ones they’ve visited), abstract images (including patterns), object art/photos, and classical art. Most of these images are photos taken by the senders, and in some cases, have been designed from scratch by them. It runs the gamut from light to dark, from familiar to weird.

I’ve attached their descriptions of the images where they were provided. (The page might take a minute to load on slower connections because of the photos.) Enjoy!

From Art: "This was taken 3 years ago. Gracieville, Cape Breton. Its the beach within a 2 minute walk from my mother's home. When the waves come in the rocks make a sound unlike anything I've ever heard. Its the place I'd always go to collect my thoughts and stare at the Atlantic Ocean in all its glory and power."

From Greg: "I appreciate good engineering. I alternate between tech objects and the abstract."

From Jay: "Now playing on my vertical oriented monitor….This is the actual sign for the coroner's bureau at the Oakland police department. I think all backgrounds should fade to black."

From James: "This is what happens when I leave my cooler for 2 minutes to go light the BBQ. This was last summer. The kids are 3 and 2. I was proud..."

From Piers (who knows I love Caravaggio): "You'll be pleased to know that I've got Caravaggio on my desktop. It's his Saint Jerome, which I saw in the Borghese last year, when I was in Rome, after first learning about it at the 400th anniversary show that we also saw there. I love the physicality of the picture, both skinny, lanky Jerome and the huge folios he is handling; the way he's holding that one he's working from tells you that he's peering carefully at the marginalia in one of those massive (and, for him, anachronistic) Renaissance theological works, while he marks his place elsewhere in the text with a finger between the pages. It is a perfect reminder of the nerdy scholarliness of what I do every day."

From Lauren: "Last summer I was in a villa in Frassineto, Italy (Tuscany, just outside of Cortona). While I was enjoying breakfast I saw this peaceful landscape and had to take a picture. It has been my desktop ever since."

From Rory: "He's not mine, but that's nothing a little murder and theft can't remedy."

From Anthony: "I'm not a photographer, even though I have a degree in it, but I still like to take the odd picture. Truth be told when i'm out and about, with my camera, I will make a conscious decision to take a picture on whether or not it will make a good desktop or postcard. This is lepreau falls the weekend we went to St. stephen for chocolate fest."

From Beki: "This is currently my desktop. It is one in a series that I had one of my closest (girl) friends take as a Valentines Day gift to my husband who is away and will be away for another 6+ weeks. It was a huge leap for me and VERY outside my comfort zone. This picture is now on my desktop because, although not my favorite of the set (but more appropriate for others to see), I think it is beautiful and in seeing that, I have to recognize that this may very well mean that I am in fact not such a hose beast after all , but instead am actually, potentially beautiful. As you can see I am still struggling with this lesson. So to remind myself I have placed this picture on my desktop."


From Sean (a Mozilla employee and graphic designer): "I'm an employer fanboi."

From Chris, who sent me two photos: "Here are two pictures I often have on my desktop. They are both taken by my IPhone and I use both for the same reason. I love both my sons and when I see my oldest in his spidey man costume I crack up and smile every time I see it."

Also from Chris: "For this photo of the Saint John harbour I used Instagram to give it a bit more gloomy look. I love Saint John, for all of its faults and took this picture from my desk. I feel SJ is trying to revitalise its uptown culture, despite its lack of leadership at a municipal level."

From Matt: "This is my desktop at work. I really wanted something steam punk themed, and to let everyone know that THIS is the domain of an engineer. Found via Google search - definitely not my work in any way shape or form."

From Peter, a "Community Activist" from Saint John, NB.


From Jennifer: "me and my little bird, 2 weeks old."

From Gavin, who is probably fighting space beasts on the planet Zob with Spaceman Spiff.


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