Using Gopher The User-Friendly Reference


Some quotes from the book ["Using Gopher The User-Friendly Reference" Keith Johnson, Philip Baczewski, Melody Childs] from 1995. Titles of paragraphs as in the book. I highlighted text by underscore character _.


This book isn't any advanced title nor include deep analyse of Gophersphere. I mention it because it was written in 1995, the year which is described in ["Where Have all the Gophers Gone?" by Christopher (Cal) Lee] as time when WWW overtook Gopher and FTP protocols. On the blurb we can see interesting opinion which was supposed to encourage us to read book about Gopher.


/Using Gopher/ helps users master the essential basics of Gopher. Before the world _went World Wide Web crazy_, Gopher was being used by thousands of sites to efficiently deliver valuable information resources to their users. This book covers Gopher's operational background, basics and beyond"

D. Alan Cunningham

Principal Engineer

NASA Spacelink Project


So we must resist WWW craziness.


After this introduction I noted some final paragraphs of the book. Paragraphs 1st - 3rd are about operational side of Gopher on example client called WSGopher. Book has many illustration which are showing every dialog of WSGopher and, what is more interesting, content of Gophersphere inside WSGopher.


"Part VI Gopher and Beyond"


Is Gopher becoming extinct? Is it destined to go the way of the dinosaurs, fading in the wake of Mosaic's meteoric popularity? It's hard to believe that in 1990 there was no such thing as Gopher. Soon after its development in 1991, Gopher enjoyed an exponential growth in popularity and it had only one major competitor.

Gopher's competition only had a _real advantage on expensive graphical computer systems_ where you could display pictures and text together on one screen. That competitor was the World Wide Web; and a program called Mosaic has recently altered the landscape considerably. Now, thanks to inexpensive and powerful computer hardware, everybody can use a graphical environment, such as Windows, Mac OS, and OS/2. The Web has gained new stature within the online world. What's the future of Gopher in this new landscape?


In 90's everyone wanted to have more powerful computer. Not as today, when is popular to operating with some own-given hardware limitations. So we are back to the same argumentations from a bit other side.


"Gopher's place on the Internet landscape"


The complete extinction of Gopher _is not likely_, because Gopher servers' ability to organize information and manage data make them an attractive target even for these new Web browsers. But Gopher clients seem to be in jeopardy. The ease with which newer programs such as Mosaic and Netscape can access Gopher servers might check the growth of Gopher as an Internet service with its own identity.

Some new ideas in using Gopher might be the key to keeping the Gopher service viable. There are a couple of interesting prospects, and in this chapter we'll see how they bring some fresh concepts to the use of an Internet resource that, by now, we've not only gotten quite used to but grown quite fond of as well.


"Some new ideas on the horizon"


Several new Gopher clients and interfaces have appeared recently that may change the thinking about how we use Gopher. Some innovative concepts have been applied to using a very traditional kind of Gopher service.

"Gophermoo: Gopher in virtual reality"

Gophermoo is based on a game technology that's been around the Internet for a number of years. You may have heard of the fantasy game Dungeons and Dragons, in which players control the actions of a character in a made-up world. The online version of this concept is called a MUD, for Multi-User Dungeon. A MUD allows multiple people to participate in an online game usually done over the Internet.

Gophermoo is a new kind of server that creates a text-based virtual reality and allows you to use items in Gopherspace as if you were in real space. The "moo" in Gophermoo stands for Mud Object Oriented. Gophermoo creates a space in which Gopher items exist as objects within a room. You can visit that room, collect objects (Gopher menus you've visited), leave the room, and come back to it in the same state that you left it. Because Gophermoo is a multi-user server, someone else might be in the room with you and you can collaborate on some Internet exploration.


It's worth to say that Geminispace has similar active project [Ijiraq].


"TurboGopher VR"

GopherVR takes the concept of virtual reality one step further by using _three dimensional graphic images_ to create a small landscape that can be navigated by literally moving in one direction or another. Currently there are two versions available for only two kinds of computer systems (UNIX and Macintosh) and the software is experimental.

(...) the initial screen that you see when you run TurboGopherVR, the Macintosh version of GopherVR. You can move to the right around this circle by pressing the mouse button and moving the mouse to the right. You want to move left? Press the mouse button and move your mouse to the left. Moving the mouse up moves you forward and close to one of the monoliths. Moving the mouse down moves you backward.

When you click on one of the menu items you will be taken to the new menu. (You will actually start from an aerial view and fly down to a new set of monoliths.) Currently, the same scene is used for all menus, but the developers of GopherVR have imagined a version for which Gopher system managers could create their own three-dimensional scenes and allow people to navigate among various items.


It's funny that from the 1990's we are trying to put everything into virtual reality. Until now, it seems that this idea has not been sold with too much success.


"A final word"


A Gopher server remains an easy way to organize and present information on the Internet. It sometimes _may not be as elegant_ as the World Wide Web; however, its utility as a flexible workhorse of an Internet server is unmatched. The primary weaknesses of Gopher as a service are the overburdened Veronica and Archie servers. This is only a weakness because of these servers' popularity. With the expansion of the Internet, perhaps more of those servers can be provided as a public service by some of the corporate Internet users or provided by commercial Internet companies for their subscribers. Either way would relieve some of the traffic from the university and network organization sites that currently provide these search servers.

Gopher as an access method does have some limitations in its current form. As we have seen, however, those limitations can be overcome. The application of new ideas to this older Internet technology has resulted in some creative approaches to displaying Gopher resources. It may be that the _future of Gopher will only be limited by the imagination of a new generation of programmers_.


So as it was written. In the times of WWW craziness there were awareness of Gopher limitations but someone want to publish a new book about Gopher for newbies. We should check how many copies were sold, what could show us the real state of Gopher interest of people. Author thought that only Gopher browsers are in danger, because WWW browsers include ability of Gopher browsing. And had put Gophersphere into the hands of "new generation of programmers". Nice.


"Find Mother Gopher by her address"


To get to the Mother Gopher without pointing and clicking all over the place, enter its address (...) name, University of Minnesota, and address, gopher.micro.umn.edu


Book is containing index of interesting addresses, I tried to browse them. I've started from Mother Gopher, and tried also some next addresses from the list. Not even one of them worked.



["Using Gopher The User-Friendly Reference" Keith Johnson, Philip Baczewski, Melody Childs]

["Where Have all the Gophers Gone?" by Christopher (Cal) Lee]

[Ijiraq]


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