Aesthetics is relevant to many aspects of computing. Here, we are mostly concerned of the superficial visual appearances and their technological bases.

A predomidant aesthetic in mainstream computing is maximalism, that is based on the idea that increased detail, complexity and "fidelity" are the key to "better graphics". This kind of preference is highly problematic from the permacomputing point of view because it creates a preference for energy usage maximization (when uncapped). Permacomputing should therefore strongly prioritize non-maximalist aesthetic approaches.

The dominant approach on the demoscene is optimalism, or "capped maximalism". It often proves that mass appeal can be reached despite tight limitations, but the aesthetic basis is still maximalist – fitting a maximal amount of content within the limits, the more the better.

Ideally, the low complexity itself can be a source of beauty: things can look good because of their smallness, not despite it. If this succeeds really well, even the most mainstreamy viewer won't be longing for more resolution or detail.

In user interfaces, the ideal of low complexity may easily lead to the now fashionable oversimplification, where the internal details are hidden from the user. This is not what we want. We should rather find ways to keep users aware of what is going without overwhelming them with the information.

Media minimization techniques sometimes lead to styles such as "ditherpunk" that require acquired taste and are still more likely to belong to the "despite" category than the "because" category.

Another example of acquired taste is "Unix brutalism" that uses a lot of monospaced fonts, program code and other elements typical of character terminals. It should be noted that despite its "hardcore low-level vibes" it is often a suboptimal way of using display hardware.

The characteristics of ?electronic paper (slow update speeds, low saturation, no flashing, bookiness) may be used as an antithesis for the psychologically intensive mainstream computer aesthetics – regardless of what kinds of screens are actually used. Elements may grow in rather than scroll in (more like plants than cars). The semblance of printed media alludes to a world that is slower and more thoughtful than the mainstream Internet.

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