Thoughts in Motion

@mauromotion

This is Mauro's personal blog. Motion designer, guitarist, overall nerd.

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London's Jam Sessions calendar project

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I'm having a hard time finding a good music community in London, both as a musician and an overall music lover. So I think it might be worth, from time to time, to hang out at some jam sessions, even though I tend not to like them too much. Anyway, I've compiled this calendar to try and keep track of the jam sessions around London. I've intentionally skipped jazz jam sessions since I'm not a jazz musician, although I like to listen to it. Also it looks like there's quite a bit more going on jazz-wise in London, so it might be the case of creating a separate calendar specifically for jazz (or maybe not and I will implement it here, we'll see). I'm also avoiding more casual open mic/jam sessions in pubs unless they become popular within the musicians community. I'm a guitarist so most of the jam sessions I've found so far are blues oriented. I'm trying to find out if there's anything different going on, let's say psychedelic or more ethnic/world jam sessions and obviously rock. I'll try to keep this up to date. I'd might even post some of my adventures, if I'd happen to have any.

Hopefully this may be helpful to other fellow musicians in London, as well.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Photo by Darv Robinson on Unsplash

A brief Mastodon guide for newcomers

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This is a quick reference guide for brand new Mastodon (and Fediverse) users who may be feel like they're screaming into the void when they first join mograph.social (or any other instance for that matters).

Mograph.social is a Mastodon server that is part of a much more vast network of other servers called "The Fediverse".

You have chosen to subscribe to this server because, most probably, you're interested in motion design, animation or VFX (or anything else in the field) and now you'd like to connect with like-minded individuals, start conversations, join conversations, socialise in general (hey, isn't it what social media are for, after all?).

You have joined mograph.social and now all you can see is a single (presumably) lonely guy (myself) posting toots into the void.

Surprise surprise! More often than not, reality is not what it seems.

In fact, this is how Mastodon works:

Slang

If you're coming from Twitter this is a brief nomenclature that might come in handy:

  • Toot = Tweet
  • Boost = Retweet
  • Favourite = Like

Timelines

You have 3 different timelines on mograph.social:

  • Home
  • Local
  • Federated

The Home timeline will show all the toots and boosts from yourself and the people you follow, weather they're on mograph.social or on any other server. Consider this your "curated" timeline, similar to your home feed on Twitter.

The Local timeline will show all the toots generated from the users on mograph.social. This is a good way to have a feel of the community and to join mograph-related conversations.

The Federated timeline will show ALL the toots from ALL the accounts that ALL the users on mograph.social are currently following. This is a really good tool to have a peek outside our little server and join the vast Fediverse community.

Of course there are also direct messages, and a column for all the notifications.

First steps

#introduction

It's good netiquette in the Fediverse to post a short introduction about yourself and tag it with #introduction. If you use other hash tags in the introduction toot as well, it would be even more useful for people to find you and eventually follow you. You can also consider pinning your #introduction toot to your profile, it's a good way to extend your bio info section.

Create your profile

You can add a profile picture and you can also write a short bio in your profile. There are even some custom fields where you can put any kind of informations like links to your website or blog or whatever you like, really. Please also consider specifing the pronouns you'd like to use for yourself. This is a nice way to help shielding transgender people against online harassment and discrimination.

Follow your fellows!

You might want to consider following the other folks on mograph.social, as they most probably are going to be motion designers like you.

Hash tags

You can search Mastodon by hash tags and then you can pin the resulting feed to a new column on the interface. This way you'll be able to keep an eye on the feed and discover some more interesting people to follow, or join some conversations even on different servers.

Useful tools

Trunk is a community curated list of Mastodon accounts organised by topics. Following some people on one or more of the lists can be a good way to bootstrap your Home feed.

If you want to have a peek inside some other Mastodon servers and maybe find other people to follow you can use MastoVue.

Mobile apps

For Android devices I suggest Tusky and Fedilab. They work great with multiple accounts as well. Tusky is more minimal and snappy, Fedilab has a lot more features (that you may need or not). I'd recommend getting the apps from F-droid instead of the Play Store. In any case, the apps are both great and constantly developed so considering a donation to help their development is not a bad idea at all.

As far as I know (I don't have an iPhone) the most used app for iOS is Toot!. Otherwise there is also Amaroq which is free.

Tips & Tricks

  • If you're not keen of the default multicolumn interface of Mastodon you can switch to a more similar to Twitter single column view. Go to Preferences --> Appearance and then you can untick "Enable advanced web interface".
  • Post interesting toots and people will follow you.
  • Interact with strangers.
  • Be curious.
  • Ask questions.
  • Try out new things.

Your faithful admin @mauro


Original photo by Héctor López on Unsplash.

Centralised vs. Decentralised Social Media

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In our time and age, that is the year 2019, a large majority of people that have access to the internet also have an account on one or more of the most diffused social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the first place.
According to the statistics, at the end of December 2018 there were 2.32 billion monthly active users (MAU) on Facebook, 1 billion MAU on Instagram and 326 million MAU on Twitter.
This situation, which is rather new in human's history, rises a lot of old problems, some of which are making it to the news' headlines while some others are more subliminal but exist nonetheless.

Private data harvesting

The recent (and frequent) data scandals that involve Facebook can't be easily ignored. They say "data is the new oil" not by coincidence, the collection of personal data is the way which the big Silicon Valley companies are able to make their big profits (by reselling your personal data to whomever might need them for advertising or surveillance purposes).

Moderating millions of users

Another news that made it to the headlines more than once is the nazis/white supremacies accounts moderation problem on Twitter.
Apparently there's really no way to moderate all the content generated by millions of users under a single centralised service. There are too many side effects if a company like Twitter tries to apply some moderation rules to its huge bulk of users. And so, some quite controversial groups are free to express some rather harmful ideas alongside a lot of other people that consistently don't agree with these ideas or are even harmed by them. A lot of minorities on Twitter have had a really hard time using the service and they have just been forced to leave it completely in the face of constant harassment, discrimination and overall violence towards them.

Personal filter bubble

Another side effect of centralised social media is that a large part of these people experience the internet only through these services, and therefore most of their perception of the web (and its representation of reality) tends to be limited and deformed by it. Also the algorithms used to personalise your experience with the services are a major cause of this perception bias; in other words, trying to stick to your habits and taste as much as possible they end up wrapping you in a plastic bubble made of the redundant things you always look for and therefore already know.

New and old solutions

As I've mentioned before these aren't really new challenges. The first is the centralisation of resources and power in the hands of a few individuals and/or institutions. The second are the issues of governing and moderating big crowds of people. The personal filter bubble is somewhat an inherent issue to these new technologies and therefore new itself.

As these issues seem to be timeless, some solutions have already been tried in the past. One that relates well to the modern social media situation is the constitution of federations. In a sense we could define a federated system as a way to have people below the same umbrella of creeds, traditions and beliefs but dealing, at the same time, with different flavours of these creeds, traditions and beliefs. Avoiding so lots of conflicts and giving the chance to this "countries" of being governed in a more democratic way, so that the basic human rights can be maintained and reinforce
In this sense a federation is a decentralisation of power to make governing easier and to keep intact the specific traits of a certain group of people. In the Fediverse there is no "owner". There's no business model, no market rules to respect and fulfill, no share holders to keep happy. And therefore no data harvesting and no advertising in any form, no algorithms to determine your likes, dislike and create a profile of you to be sold.

Rockers vs. Nightclubbers

Let's say you like music. Specifically you like rock music. More specifically you like some kind of rock music that is best appreciated when listened in a live contest. Let's say you are in a centralised type of society where you can like music, but then you are forced to both listen to your favourite band in a club and also to go dancing some techno beats in another club. You like music, you gotta have both, that's how it works, sorry!

Instead in a decentralised system you are not forced to hang out with those fancy pants disco people, but you can stay with your black leather dressed friends and enjoy your life and still accept the existence of different cultures because you are not both forced to like one another.

Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are centralised places where you might have some tools to avoid dealing with people you don't fit well with, but still you are forced to share the same space. The Fediverse (which stands for "federated universe") instead is a federation of many places with different flavours and opinions that are still all interconnected but they are not forced in doing so. And they all have a unique flavour and different points of view. Of course, you can still hang out at the dance club if at some point you feel like it.

I ain't no miracle worker

Of course there are no magic solutions to this kind of issues. And the decentralised services on the internet come with their new sets of problems and challenges. But, at least to me, and to an increasing number of people that everyday are becoming more aware of the importance of online privacy and the overall influence of technology in our lives, the Fediverse sounds like a really sane alternative that bears hope for a more civilised future on the web and in our everyday "real" life.


Photo by Ludovic Toinel on Unsplash.

My own Mastodon server: mograph.social

I've just launched my own Mastodon server at mograph.social.

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It's an experiment to see if I can help bringing some of the motion design community into the Fediverse.

Twitter used to be a very popular hang out for many motion designers, but it has declined so much that barely anyone is still using it.

As a lover of the open source culture I feel that this experiment might be very worth the effort.
Mastodon is great and I'd love to see it grow even more with some more people from the art and design communities.

So my new Mastodon handle is: @mauro@mograph.social

Feel free to follow me from any other instance, obviously.

The registrations to mograph.social are closed but if you're interested in the community you can apply and I will let you in.

See you in the Fediverse!

Join me on Mastodon

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Hey folks!

I'd like to invite you to join me on Mastodon.

Mastodon is a free and open social network, not run by any company but independently by people. It doesn't have any ads since it's non-profit; therefore there are no algorithms to tell you what you should click on or harvesting your personal data to then sell to third parties. It's a free software to meet, connect and stay in touch with people.

Unlike Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, Mastodon is decentralized; this means that there is not a single "Mastodon website" to sign up and login but many with many different flavours. Think about it like email: you can have a gmail address, outlook or yahoo or whatever you chose, but you can still send and receive emails from anyone regardless of what email service they're using.
Same with Mastodon: you can chose and join one server but you can still follow people on the whole Mastodon network, since every server is connected to the others in a network called Fediverse.

I'm currently on the most populated general purpose Mastodon instance called mastodon.social.

You don't have to be registered there to follow me but if you wish now is the right time because they have reopened the registrations after being closed for a few months to new users, and they will close it again soon eventually.

There are some other generalist big servers like mastodon.host or mastodon.cloud
Or even some more specialized ones like: mastodon.design, boardgames.social, mastodon.technology, mastodon.art, etc...

My Mastodon "handle" (again, think about it like an email address if you wish) is:

@mauro_motion@mastodon.social

Once you have created an account on any server you can search for my handle and follow me. You're not even forced to use your real name if that matters. You can even migrate on a different server if and when you'd want to. There are some nice apps for Android and iPhone as well.

Here you can find some more detailed informations: https://joinmastodon.org/

Hope to see you on Mastodon soon!

Ciao,

Mauro.

Surfing for music before the big Facebook wave

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The other day I've received one of those reminders called "anniversaries" on Facebook, and I've noticed that it's been 11 years since I created my Facebook account.
Driving back into memory lane I was thinking how my digital life was effectively different before the advent of the centralized social media networks we all have been using in the last decade.
At that period in time (around 2008) I was very much into music, I had quite a bit more free time, as I was still finishing my studies, and I can remember well how much I was obsessed with gathering info about new music on the internet. Trying to keep up with the various Pitchfork, Quietus or NME and also the myriad of little peculiar blogs that were populating the web was indeed a daunting task.

I was also obsessed (as always) with digital tools and with the best ways to get the most out of the exploding informational chaos that the internet had already become. My main tool at the time, likewise many people, was an RSS feeds aggregator. At first I've been using Mozilla Thunderbird which still has RSS reader functionalities nowadays but very soon I had to move to Google Reader, as it was so much better at the time and it didn't have many rivals.

I still have the .opml file (a list of websites) that I kept curating on an off for the last 12 years or more. It is now filled with a bunch of dead links that I'd probably have to remove but it is still there. It travelled from one RSS aggregator to the other to finally land into Feedly when Google closed its RSS reader for good.

Digital life was so much different. Then Facebook (and Twitter) arrived. Everybody was on there, even all the music labels and the news websites and a few of the (less obscure) blogs that I used to follow via RSS, landed on the major social media networks.

I remember that I thought at some point that it was so convenient. Finally all my interests and the things I've been chasing over the internet were all together (with my friends as well!) on the same feed.

My actual feeling about this in part may be deformed by the changes in my life's priorities, but I remember those times chasing the newest cool underground garage punk band on some blog with awkward CSS, as a much better time for my music fruition and enjoyment.

Now we've been using Spotify,Twitter and Facebook for a decade but everything feels so dull and unexciting.

What I'd like to do now that I barely use social media anymore (with the exception of Mastodon) is to get back into that musical research frenzy because the blogs are still there, new bands are always making music and the internet is still the most exciting tool to get in touch with a lot of diverse great stuff.

It looks like an age is finally closing. At least for me. And I can wake up from this long sleep that lasted 11 years and get back to were I was.

I will keep you posted.

Let's open that old RSS reader, let's rock and roll.