Ars Technica covers the renaissance of Gopher, the text-based menuing system that presaged the Web. My first net-industry job was building a gopher site (halfway through, we scrapped it in favor of a website). Good times.
Cameron Kaiser is a programmer on the Overbite Project, which brings better Gopher support to Firefox versions 2 and 3. When he writes about the relevance of Gopher in a Web world, he rejects the nostalgia for a "simpler time."
The Web may have won, but Gopher tunnels on
"The misconception that the modern renaissance of Gopherspace is simply a reaction to 'Web overload' is unfortunately often repeated and, while superficially true, demonstrates a distinct lack of insight," he writes. Instead, Gopher's advantages lie in the structure that its simple menu-based interface imposes on content.
"Gopher is a mind-set on making structure out of chaos," says Kaiser. "Within Gopherspace, all Gophers work the same way and all Gophers organize themselves around similar menus and interface conceits. It is not only easy and fast to create Gopher content in this structured and organized way, it is mandatory by its nature. Resulting from this mandate is the ability for users to navigate every Gopher installation in the same way they navigated the one they came from, and the next one they will go to. Just like it had been envisioned by its creators, Gopher takes the strict hierarchical nature of a file tree or FTP and turns it into a friendlier format that still gives the fast and predictable responses that they would get by simply browsing their hard drive. As an important consequence, by divorcing interface from information, Gopher sites stand and shine on the strength of their content and not the glitz of their bling."
The public bathroom at Beijing’s Temple of Heaven Park now has a toilet paper dispenser outfitted with a camera and facial recognition technology to prevent toilet paper theft. From the New York Times: Before entering restrooms in the park, visitors must now stare into a computer mounted on the wall for three seconds before a […]
Poking a golden tortoise beetle (“goldbug”) triggers the insect’s color to change from gold to a red-orange. Inspired by the natural system underlying that insectoid superpower, MIT researchers have developed flexible sensors circuits that can be 3-D printed. Eventually, the technology could lead to sensor-laden skin for robots. From MIT News: “In nature, networks of […]
MNTNT’s Albert Clock is a clock that presents the hours and minutes as simple math problems. Is it annoying or engaging? Or…. both! In standard mode, the queries change every minute. They are completely random, so even the query for the hours change, even if the result stays the same. You can speed up this […]
What could be more fun than a slingshot that shoots tiny airplanes? A slingshot that shoots tiny glowing airplanes of course! These toy planes are outfitted with ultra-bright LEDs, so you can fly all night without losing them in the trees.Whether you are a regular-sized child, or an overgrown adult one, these light-up flyers offer […]
You know the drill. You go to the dentist and they ask you how often you floss. You lie through your teeth and say, “every day!” (Bonus points if you have some cilantro or chives stuck in your gums from lunch). You don’t want to keep up the charade any longer, but rubbing that tiny strand […]
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has done outstanding work packing a fully capable desktop computer into a package the size of a deck cards—especially one that only costs $35. But if you already have a working laptop, why should you care? Oh, how much you have to learn. Besides operating well as a compact digital media hub, […]