Avoiding the gravity-well of webbiness in gopher

A response to Pondering what’s inbetween Gopher and the web <gopher://zaibatsu.circumlunar.space:70/0/~solderpunk/phlog/pondering-whats-inbetween-gopher-and-the-web.txt>

John Ohno
3 min readApr 17, 2019

With regard to formats:

The author suggests that the ‘default format’ should not be ‘plaintext’ but a ‘minimal markup’. Gophermaps are, in fact, a minimal markup. They are suitable for adding links to gopher documents. We ought to write new documents as gophermaps. Writing documents as gophermaps is in line with the general gopher philosophy of: if you’re not gonna do it cleanly and easily, don’t do it at all.

Any markup format that supports more features than just links is a waste, particularly if we build it from scratch. Gophermaps are an ideal compromise, because only links are supported, and because the line-based structure prevents the overhead & complexity associated with most forms of embedded markup (for instance, no complex escaping is necessary because links can only occur at the beginning of lines). Markdown would be a step down here.

The primary feature that the author suggests as a driver for this format change — protocol and media type selection — is already fully supported in vanilla gopher.

With regard to TLS:

I’m not sure whether or not encryption for gopher makes sense. Gopher is mostly static (though it…



John Ohno

Resident hypertext crank. Author of Big and Small Computing: Trajectories for the Future of Software. http://www.lord-enki.net