today i bought LED lightbulbs for the kitchen, to replace the compact fluorescents. and i'm a little freaked. not by the brightness, though that is a blessing, but by the way the light hits full brightness instantly when the switch is flicked. i've had 15 years of light coming up slowly as i enter a room. there are rooms i seldom see brightly lit, because i enter and leave before the fluorescents have got going (this shortens their life more than any other thing). it feels wrong to have bright light instantly, as though something is going to blow.
of course this returns us to what used to happen in the days of tungsten lightbulbs (at an eighth of the power consumption). it now seems that compact fluorescents were an intermediate technology. in commercial lighting, too, fluorescent sources have had their day, except where they give some quality that can't be had from another source. the tinyness and lack of heat of LEDs is radically changing the nature of lamps and their locations - thin lines and point sources can be drawn across architecture, tucked unobtrusively into joints and pinholes. in the domestic sphere the forms of light sources are still largely constrained by the fittings of the tungsten age - everything still gets wrapped up into a bulb shape. eventually we'll get past that.