Introducing Neenster

A new social media platform/fediverse instance!

Q. What is Neenster?
A. Neenster is an open-source social media platform aimed at my existing social media friends and followers, and their friends and followers, and so on. My hope is that an account here will offer a soft landing into the “fediverse”, a giant network of network instances like this one. Well, technically like this one, but in terms of personality and audience, very different; fediverse instances range from highly policed insular bubbles, to completely unmoderated ideological hazmat zones. Neenster is somewhere in between. Once you have a Neenster account, you can discover other fediverse instances, and even start your own.

Q. Do you moderate this thing?
A. I plan to moderate Neenster like I “moderate” my fecebook wall: mostly by doing nothing, but occasionally blocking particularly abusive and annoying people according to how much they piss me off. Ideally users will moderate themselves by using their god-given blocking fingers. Remember: MUTE and/or BLOCK. It’s like brushing your teeth, but for your sanity.

Q. Does Neenster cost anything?
A. Accounts are free, and there’s no advertising or data collection, or profit. I pay for hosting and the domain. It’s my experiment, and my responsibility. If you want to contribute to my expenses, you can donate via the left-hand sidebar.

Q. Why is it called Neenster?
A. It’s named after me, Nina Paley. The -ster suffix is because it’s based on Spinster, where I’ve been a moderator almost since its founding. Neenster is spelled phonetically because people wouldn’t pronounce Ninster correctly. The name makes it clear that this instance is my experiment and my responsibility. I’m not trying to do anything more than host a bunch of my online friends, acquaintances, and frenemies away from fecebook. A cooler name would imply greater ambitions and impartiality, which I don’t have.

Q. Is Neenster trans-inclusive?
A. Yes. Trans people are welcome here.

Q. What about women?
A. Yes, women are welcome here.

Q. And men?
A. Yes, men are welcome here.

Q. You said I was welcome but someone here hurt my feelings!!
A. People will hurt your feelings online (and elsewhere). You can ignore them, mute them, or use your god-given blocking finger to block them.

Q. YOU’RE A HATEFUL BIGOT!!
A. This is the sort of thing that’s not welcome on neenster.org

Q. Do I have to use my real name?
A. No, but I’d like it if you did.

Q. What is your biggest concern about social media?
A. Mobbing/dogpiling. Few individuals who make up online mobs break any rules, but as groups they wreak havoc. The loveliest, nicest people join mobs. I’m extremely curious to learn if anything can be done about mobbing, because thus far I’ve seen it on every conceivable online platform, even with the best possible participants and intentions.

Q. Why the fish?
A. Because they look cool.

Q. I notice a lot of animated gifs here
A. Aren’t they cool? I’m an animator, I love them.

Q. How do I turn off the damn gifs?
A. Under “Preferences”, uncheck “Auto-play animated GIFs”.

more at https://neenster.org/about

Resurrected Mosaics

Working on new tessellating animated gif tiles led me to revisit my older tile experiments, and repurpose for website backgrounds. I originally made these animated mosaics in Macromedia Flash 8 for my section of the feature film The Prophet.

I tried recreating the mosaics in Moho, but quickly became frustrated. Moho’s masking is very unlike Flash’s; in fact Moho’s everything is very unlike Flash’s, and where Flash excels at this type of mechanical construction, Moho favors the organic. Rather than figuring it out anew, I fired up the ol’ 2007 PowerMac and dug into my old Flash files. I exported as Quicktime Video with an alpha channel and copied to my less-ancient 2014 Mac Pro. Moho couldn’t read the old Quicktime format, so I exported again as Apple ProRes 4444, dropped it into Moho Pro, fiddled about with sizing, and eventually exported this transparent gif that will permit cartesian tiling even though the underlying shapes are hexagonal.

In the process I discovered this cool website that will generate a “sprite sheet” from your uploaded gif. This would have been convenient back when I was designing morphing tile fabric patterns, but back in those days – the days Flash still worked – I had to do it manually.

Speaking of Flash, Adobe just announced it’s dead forever. Wouldn’t it be nice if they released Macromedia Flash (you know, the GOOD version from before they bought and ruined it) so others could develop it?

Tessellating in Time and Space

I’ve been collaborating with Alex Gleason on a new social media website, and he proposed a background of the animated fish from Seder-Masochism:

But how to scale it up for a full background? The gif above is 1.6 MB, it can’t be any larger without significantly slowing loading times (and eating up data on mobile devices). I thought I could maybe make a tessellating animated gif tile, and so did Alex, but it turned out to be much trickier than I’d anticipated.

In a way, a looping gif is a tessellation of time: it seamlessly begins where it ends. That isn’t so hard:

I actually notice a little blip in the time-tessellating here. Can you find it?

But it doesn’t tessellate in space. If you tile the fish above, you’ll see “seams” at regular intervals. Making the fish line up seamlessly, while moving, required going “under the hood” of the original animation, re-sizing and retiming everything, and carefully positioning and scaling by eyeball. I won’t go into all the details and mistakes, but after some hours I eventually got something that works almost perfectly:

I changed the colors, obviously.

Now get this: it’s under 160 KB. That’s right, less than one-tenth the filesize of the gif at the top of this post; smaller than most jpegs of similar dimensions (360 x 360 pixels). But it covers an entire browser window, no matter how large. Here’s a screenshot showing it tessellating in space:

Yes, you can still find teeny-weeny seams, but at 12 frames per second they’re hardly noticeable.

To see it tessellating in space and time, click the image above or go to https://alexgleason.me/fish/ .

Update: I made a smoother version. Above is 12 frames per second, below is 24 frames per second. This makes it smoother and less headache-inducing, but doubles the number of frames and therefore file size, and the seams are more visible.

40 frames long, 24 fps, 268 KB.

Link: https://alexgleason.me/fish/smooth.html