burrowing: From text-only to gopher-only

Published: November 15, 2021


This past month, I've spent a lot of time learning about gopher. It's truly a fascinating alternative to the world wide web, not just in the content found there but also in terms of the protocol itself.

As of this writing, I've decided to deprecate text.alexkarle.com in favor of serving that content (and more!) over gopher instead, exclusively.


This shouldn't have much impact on this blog. After all, text.alexkarle.com was an experiment to begin with! I'll still keep publishing semi-regularly here, I just don't plan on maintaining a text dump via HTTP.

I will, however, start publishing gopher-only content. There's two main reasons for this:

  1. I want to see more activity on gopher
  2. Gopher is easier to publish on

Admittedly, number 2 is my own doing. I moved this blog to mdoc(7) willingly to learn the language. I've found that it slows my raw output, which, while fine for longer form pieces, is a pain for shorter-form thoughts. No regrets (I learned a ton!), but shorter-form thoughts do much better in plaintext!

The first reason is a theme for this blog: be the change you want to see. I would love to see more content on gopher, so I'm taking the plunge.

The Pitch

So, why gopher? Probably the biggest reason to explore gopher is the content. It's a parallel network totally untouched by commercial interests. You won't see a single ad.

The second reason to try gopher lies in the protocol itself--gopher has a standardized menu interface, and individual gopherholes cannot change the way you interact with them beyond the standard. In a world where it seems every bit of the web's UI has been rewritten in JavaScript (looking at you, <div>'s that should be <button>'s), it's wildly refreshing to just have a predictable menu.

So, gopher separates the interaction (menus) from the content (can be anything, but is usually plaintext). I think this is a cool design choice because it emphasizes what the gopher protocol is really about: fetching documents.

Ultimately, it's hard to describe and much better experienced. For a quick dip, try out a proxy like https://gopherproxy.net. For client recommendations, I'd check out lynx(1), sacc(1), or bombadillo(1). Bombadillo has gemini support too, gemini being another alternative internet protocol worth checking out. I'll likely put my stuff up there too, if time allows.

Not sure where to start in your client? Go to gopher://alexkarle.com of course! :)

See Also

Back to blog