After about a week of being on NewNPN this is the way I see some of the issues brought up in this post, as well in some other related ones. One thing that I want to say from the start is that I don’t know how many of these things that we would like to see done some other way are mandated by the platform on which NewNPN is built, and thus there is not much that can be done about it, but I suspect that this is the case for many if not most of them. I also want to say that I truly appreciate the enormous amount of effort that David and Jennifer are putting into this and that, from my experience of maintaining two simple personal websites, I have a full appreciation of how difficult it can be to make things look good and simple, and how much sweat goes unnoticed in the final product.
So, this is what I think is the root of the issue. Whether by design or by constrictions imposed by the platform, NewNPN follows a “Social Media Light” model. I for one deplore social media, do not belong to any “channel”, and consider social media to be the greatest threat to human civilization to arise since the last one came down in flames on May 7, 1945 (I’m not kidding, but explaining why would get me into sociological, historical and political arguments, so I won’t). Having said this, I also realize that it is the current “fashion” or “trend”, and that it is here to stay, no matter what I and a few other dinosaurs may think about it. I also confess that out of curiosity I signed on to Facebook around 2010, and promptly closed my account after a month or so. In 2012 or 2013 I made the mistake of trying 500px, thinking that that was not the same thing. It took me a couple of days to realize that it is exactly the same thing as any other social media “channel”: a popularity contest and a platform for narcissists to collect adulation from the adoring masses. Ditto for 1x, but….ohhh….they are so hip…
What I see is that NewNPN is a bit like 500px. Not nearly as bad, of course, but the basic premise is there: unless an image gets a comment soon after it is posted, it is quickly buried under new posts. The more comments an image gets, the more frequently it “bobs up” and thus the more likely it will be that it will get new comments and stay in the first “page” or two. Sounds familiar? This is the antithesis of “static”, and it is the reason why you cannot have it both ways. If the software is designed with a “Social Media” philosophy, then it can never show you the images in the order in which they were posted (or it may be able to do so but at an exorbitant cost in computing and storage resources). If you want a static platform then it will not be able to follow the social media paradigm that millennials grew up with and like, and the site will die of old age, as happened to OldNPN.
As to why no “next” button, I think that there may be a couple of issues at work here. In the Social Media model as I described it above there is no “next” because the system is dynamic, it is constantly updating depending on which was the image that was last commented on. I can see a number of situations in which, depending on exactly when an image is clicked on, the next button will take you recursively to the same image that you are trying to move away from. I realize that my software skills may be a bit dated (Fortran, C and R are all I can do) and that there may be better ways to deal with this now, but perhaps not on the cheap if one wishes to be absolutely certain that the system will not hang up under any circumstances, no matter what unlikely combination of inputs it may get. Alternatively, it may just be “fashion”: social media leads to short attention spans, so you don’t want to waste time looking at the next thirty seven images that you know you will not be interested in, if all you want to do is get to the image of your buddy that you want to comment on. It is easier to do this with the thumbnails.
Awwwright - this has gone on too long. In my defense I’m in bed with a horrible cold and little to do. I will finish by saying this. I like NewNPN a lot, despite issues such as the ones that I describe above. I think that the decision to separate critique from galleries was an excellent one, and it was probably the main factor in my decision to return to NPN, for reasons that I explain in my “Introduce yourself to the community” entry. I realize that many of the things that one would like changed may not be changeable owing to platform constraints (even getting my WordPress theme to do what I want it to do is more often than not a losing battle), and I am happy to accept NewNPN with all of its “imperfections”, because even with those it is a mighty beautiful site and a unique resource. Thank you again David and Jennifer for making this possible!