Gopher is an interactive Internet browser. It is something of a successor to FTP and predecessor to the Web. Gopher had a brief moment of popularity in the early 1990s, but was eclipsed within a few years by the web.
Gopher’s chief innovation was presenting menus that could refer to content across many different servers. This was a contrast to systems of the time, such as FTP or telnet, that had no programmatic way to point to content elsewhere, and made it cumbersome to switch to alternative servers.
The web extended this concept by permitting links within documents; in Gopherspace, you would look at either a menu (containing primarily links) or a document (which does not have links, in general).
Gopher is an example of both Old and Small Technology.
John Goerzen worked to resurrect Gopher in the early 2000s, and there are now several modern Gopher servers and some Gopher communities online.
A modern successor to gopher is Gemini.
this list may be dated
Gopher-hosted clients are linked using meulie.net’s Gopher proxy. Feel free to change links to a different proxy, although meulie.net appears to allow binary downloads.
Cross Platform (Including Windows)
Links to this note
Arguably the most successful platform whose code can be easily modified at runtime. Emacs presents this through the metaphor of a text editor, though the Emacs platform has been about more than that since pretty much its inception. Emacs as a platform hosts email readers, Usenet clients, web and Gopher browsers, games, terminal emulators, sftp clients, chat clients, and even a window manager. With org-mode, most of these (including the email clients) can be linked together with agendas, task lists, and personal notes to form an integrated tracking system. org-roam extends this yet further.
Complete.Org is a personal project managed since 1994 by John Goerzen.
Gemini is a modernization of Gopher. It is an example of Small Technology. It uses its own protocol and a document format based on Markdown.
These sites are hosted on the complete.org server. Some are hosted with resources donated to non-profit organizations.
An effort to bring the values and benefits of Old and Small Technology to the modern Web. That is, using the existing web technologies in a way that makes the web small.
Inspired by several others (such as Alex Schroeder’s post and Szczeżuja’s prompt), as well as a desire to get this down for my kids, I figure it’s time to write a bit about living through the PC and Internet revolution where I did: outside a tiny town in rural Kansas. And, as I’ve been back in that same area for the past 15 years, I reflect some on the challenges that continue to play out.
Old technology is any tech that’s, well… old.
“OK,” you’re probably thinking. “John, you talk a lot about things like Gopher and personal radios, and now you want to talk about building a reliable network out of… USB drives?”