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How Moore's Law Saved Us From the Gopher Web

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the bring-back-gopher dept.

Networking 239

Urchin writes "In the early 1990s, the World Wide Web was a power-hungry monster unpopular with network administrators, says Robert Topolski, chief technologist of the Open Technology Initiative. They preferred the sleek text-only Gopher protocol. Had they been able to use data filtering technology to prioritize gopher traffic Topolski thinks the World Wide Web might not have survived. But it took computers another decade or so to be powerful enough to give administrators that option, and by that time the Web was already enormously popular." My geek imagination is now all atwitter imagining an alternate gopher-driven universe.

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lol whut? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187383)

early web wasn't worse than gopher or ftp.

Re:lol whut? (4, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187465)

Yes it was- people went nuts with images on their pages. I even remember one early commentator saying that text-only web pages were actually *better* for people on 14.4k baud modems.

Re:lol whut? (3, Informative)

dunng808 (448849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187673)

Animated gifs. Rippling flags, spinning compases, dancing babies. Remember those? Nothing to do with the content, what little there was.

If you want to see an old style yet tasteful web page, visit my vintage 2000 Open Slate Project site. [openslate.net] It features a "3D" background, another fad that faded. No Flash. I do need to spend more time updating that site.

Re:lol whut? (3, Informative)

dsoltesz (563978) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188707)

Have you visited MySpace? Not only do things ripple, spin, and dance, they glitter, shimmer, and reflect. Nothing's changed, it just reaches new depths of tastelessness. In general, personal web pages are as bad as they've always been, except now there's CMS/blog/social-whateverthefuck sites to make it oh so much easier.

Re:lol whut? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188747)

Animated gifs. Rippling flags, spinning compases, dancing babies. Remember those?

Yes, but that was already about 1999. Moore's Law was already pretty mature by then and we were well past the need for gopher.

I'm not saying everything you mentioned isn't execrable, though. It was (except the dancing baby. I liked that (that last part should be said in my Cleveland voice.))

Re:lol whut? (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187755)

Yes it was- people went nuts with images on their pages.

Oh, how history repeats itself: first they went nuts with images. Then it was animated images, and about the same time, flashing text. Then it was flash animations. Now, it's XML. Try using the complex gmail view in HTML mode sometime. There's no reason whatsoever that it should use more bandwidth to send an email (once the system has loaded) via that interface than through the simple HTML view; in fact, it should take less. Nope! It takes more.

Re:lol whut? (4, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187891)

Isn't there a reason, though? Presumably, using javascript/ajax, you don't need to send/receive as much information (i.e., reload the ENTIRE page) at a time. With plain HTML, you would have to receive a copy of the entire page again... ?

I see no reason why it should take less in normal HTML. Any explanations why you think so?

Re:lol whut? (2, Informative)

znerk (1162519) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188797)

I see no reason why it should take less in normal HTML. Any explanations why you think so?

You're reading it wrong. GP said:

There's no reason whatsoever that it should use more bandwidth to send an email (once the system has loaded) via that interface than through the simple HTML view; in fact, it should take less.

Therefore, you are making the same argument as the GP, but with less reading comprehension.

Re:lol whut? (5, Interesting)

RDW (41497) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187835)

'I even remember one early commentator saying that text-only web pages were actually *better* for people on 14.4k baud modems.'

As I recall (Get Off My Lawn, etc.) if you were on a slow connection the web pretty much became a text-only medium initially. I used Lynx rather a lot back then (for speed), while Mosaic tended to be a rather frustrating experience. One of the cool new features that got everyone excited about one of the early versions of Netscape was its ability to show you the text (and of course active clickable links to other pages) without having to wait for every single image on the page to load (assuming you had image loading turned on at all). Suddenly the web started to look like a useable medium rather than an over-ambitious experiment crippled by slow networks and unresponsive software.

Re:lol whut? (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187847)

Yes it was- people went nuts with images on their pages. I even remember one early commentator saying that text-only web pages were actually *better* for people on 14.4k baud modems.

As long as the text wasn't blinking.

Re:lol whut? (2, Funny)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187997)

We only pray that whoever invented the tag was executed by firing squad.

Re:lol whut? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188847)

Not only were they not executed, but their invention was adorned and immortalizedeven later, when the 'blink' style was introduced as a CSS text decoration [w3.org] .

Some people may not like it very much, but others apparently demand that their browsers have this feature...

Re:lol whut? (2, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188139)

Sounds good to me, gopher don't do flash, right?

Also with lower band-width requirements hosting would be cheaper so banners wouldn't have been a necessity to support the website.

Re:lol whut? (2, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188351)

They are.

I still browse with images turned off if I am on a slow GSM connection.

Re:lol whut? (1)

johnkzin (917611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187805)

I don't know about being worse than gopher or not, but having worked among numerous network administrators at the time (in 4 different organizations), I don't know ANYONE who was wanting to block http, and certainly not in favor of gopher. I don't know anyone who preferred gopher.

Re:lol whut? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187831)

Are you kidding? The web was a huge pain. It was slow on old 14.4k SLIP connections, it was an outright shitty protocol to download with (and still is, really). By comparison, Gopher was quick. I remember discovering Project Gutenberg via my first ISP having a bookmark page. I was running OS/2 Warp, which came with a functional gopher client.

I sometimes think the Web was the worst thing to happen to the Internet. Maybe, without it, it would have taken a few more years to become the Big Thing, but imagine an interface not based on numerous kludges to try to get an essentially stateless protocol to behave like a stateful one, but one based on X or something akin to it? Now that would be something.

Re:lol whut? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188011)

HTTP is too slow, so you want to replace it with X? Retard.

Re:lol whut? (5, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188305)

Perhaps, you worthless piece of crap, you should have my post. But being that you're too fucking stupid to probably even breathe without your genetically-diseased mother popping her head through the day shouting "Asswipe, inhale!", I guess I can forgive you your cretinism and illiteracy.

But please, quit trying to hump your dog. She's a he, and has been dead for a couple of years. I know, with your puny mind, it's hard to fathom necrophilic bestiality being wrong, but somewhere in the slack-jawed, low-browed head of yours there must be some small glimmer of morality.

Re:lol whut? (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188785)

You got a way with words, MightyMartian. I'll give you that. Not many words, but the ones you have you use to great effect.

Re:lol whut? (5, Informative)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187845)

Back in the mid-1990's, the most economical internet connection for small companies was a 64Kb ISDN link billed by the kilobyte, with a local university as the ISP. As most conference announcements were broadcast by USENET, the store-and-forward service was so slow, it was fairly common to have the conference, then receive the invitation three days later. If you wanted to download a file, ftp was likely to fail due to ISDN congestion that you would be forced to use a uuencode-by-email service. You E-mailed a message with the ftp path you wanted to download to the server, then it would download the file, chop it up and uuencode it back to you in lots of little pieces.

Otherwise, home users had the choice of a 14.4 kilobaud modem - some ISP's like Demon Internet built their own DOS window based application to manage E-mail/USENET postings. You could download the headers first, then pick out which full postings you wanted to download. Even then with a PC, you were still cramped for space with 40/80 Megabyte hard disk drives. One high resolution image from SGI could take up more disk space than you had on your PC.

Re:lol whut? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188533)

Back in the mid-1990's [...] you were still cramped for space with 40/80 Megabyte hard disk drives.

40/80 MB drives in the *mid* 90s? Rubbish.

Re:lol whut? (1)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188755)

I had an 80mb drive in '95. Granted, it was old and later in the year I was able to upgrade to a full gigabyte (which wasn't cheap).

Re:lol whut? (4, Interesting)

jrumney (197329) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188793)

ftp was likely to fail due to ISDN congestion that you would be forced to use a uuencode-by-email service.

The uudecode by email services were useful when my company had a UUCP connection via a nearby City Council (which was the only provider offering such a service to businesses at the time). We didn't have enough bandwidth for the binary newsgroups (9600 modem, IIRC), so that was the only way to get files without waiting for them to be shipped on CDROM so we could go to the one machine that had a CDROM reader and copy them off. ISDN wasn't available at our exchange so our first permanent connection was a 9600 leased line to the local University. At that point, direct ftp became a more attractive option than uudecode - which often took days due to throttling by the ftp-by-mail systems to control load, and we quickly learnt about the ftp reget and passive transfers to local servers to save international bandwidth costs (we were billed $4/MB for international traffic, but local traffic was free).

One of the things I downloaded was a graphical gopher program for OS/2. That was great - much better interface than FTP, even than the graphical FTP clients that had started to appear by then, it supported linking to images and binaries, but without support for ftp's reget, I didn't see the use for anything other than text. One of my co-workers showed me this great new program he'd downloaded for the FreeBSD box that was serving as our internet gateway - lynx. Comparing it to the graphical gopher, I found it unusable - links were scattered throughout the text instead of in a nice menu at the end like gopher, and predicted that this new http protocol would quietly die out along with other little known new protocols of the time. A few months later, someone downloaded a beta version of Mosaic. Now the web started to look worthwhile, and within weeks myself and co-worker who had introduced me to lynx came in on the weekend to replace the FreeBSD box with a new 486 running Slackware and a CERN webserver.

You kids and your fancy gopher (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187393)

I'm pressing ESC twice to access this damn BBS.

And More Laws will destroy it (5, Funny)

relikx (1266746) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187397)

or try their hardest at least.

Re:And More Laws will destroy it (0, Offtopic)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188851)

Are all the Slashdot members with user numbers between 1250000 and 1350000 Republican/Libertarian goofs trying to astroturf us into the comments section of the Reason Magazine website or what?

Seriously, I've got a feeling that after the November general election they decided they wouldn't be able to turn around the hearts and minds of Americans unless they made an all-out assault on Slashdot, because naturally, Slashdot is the number one opinion-leader in the World.

Uh, no. (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187399)

Even if the Web had been stunted by throttling, the demand for multimedia content would have eventually driven the rise of the Web or at least a super-Gopher.

Re:Uh, no. (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187713)

Well, multimedia is a orthogonal concern, really. If anything, in the early days gopher was more convenient for multimedia than the web.

The thing about the web, the defining characteristic from the point of view of providers of information, was HTML. And HTML was a pain. It still is but since we assume it's necessary we don't think of it as pain. Back in the day, it was much easier dump all your stuff into gopher, including your multimedia files, than it was to write a whole new bunch of HTML from scratch.

HTML was pretty far from what people eventually wanted the web to do too, which was to be an app platform. A lot of fancy architectin' has gone on to get it where it is today, and people are still screwing around with stuff like flash.

The thing about the PITA of HTML is that it forced people to redo so much of their content into a uniform format, what's more a format that could be spidered by robots. That's the secret sauce. Yeah it's nice that people can follow hyperlinks, but the ability deal with basically one kind of data (marked up docs with hyperlinks in them) that really made the web powerful.

Another thing was that while the early HTML wasn't very much like what people wanted for their documents, and despite abortive early attempts to add things like fonts (not to mention our beloved blink tag), HTML's SGML roots gave it architectural flexibilty. It needed the flexibilty so that the the missing 99% of what really people wanted could be added later without turning it into a hopeless mess.

Re:Uh, no. (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187925)

The thing about the PITA of HTML is that it forced people to redo so much of their content into a uniform format, what's more a format that could be spidered by robots. That's the secret sauce. Yeah it's nice that people can follow hyperlinks, but the ability deal with basically one kind of data (marked up docs with hyperlinks in them) that really made the web powerful.

The thing about HTML is that it really didn't force anyone to do anything. A web server will serve plain text files just fine and so long as everyone's MIME types are good, your browser will display them. Another non-secret secret of the web is that it doesn't require a HTTP server. You can serve a web site just fine (albeit a little slowly and without dynamic content) via FTP. Finally, I took a bunch of drinking game content and put up a drinking game website by just writing a CGI (this was back in the early nineties) to write a header, insert a PRE tag, include the text file, insert a closing PRE tag, and write a footer. Careful examination of this description will reveal that I did not actually have to do anything to my text files. In addition, text files can be spidered just fine. HTML renders down to text, when done correctly (or it doesn't spider) and text is already text.

Got any other erroneous information to share?

Re:Uh, no. (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188005)

A web site made up of text files would be pretty dysfunctional.

Re:Uh, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188225)

Yeah, it sounds like drinkypoo is missing a key element here - the ability to *link* to other sites/pages/content.

Re:Uh, no. (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188823)

Not at all, that's what directory trees are for. Instead of clicking on a link to go to the next page, you simply backed up one level, and displayed the next file in the listing.

Re:Uh, no. (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188269)

Back in the day, it was much easier dump all your stuff into gopher, including your multimedia files, than it was to write a whole new bunch of HTML from scratch.

If only web servers supported directory listings. Oh wait, they did.

Re:Uh, no. (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188831)

So did FTP servers. Gopher was basically like an FTP service with a tad more metadata.

Re:Uh, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188045)

Really? There was no demand before the web was created...maybe we would all be downloading porn from Usenet still and corporate multimedia content would be delivered directly to your TV via cable or satellite?

Re:Uh, no. (3, Funny)

craash420 (884493) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188455)

...or at least a super-Gopher.

I, for one, welcome our new underground overlords.

Sorry, the thought of super-Gophers scares me more than cloned dogs, or Africanized bees, or cloned dogs with Africanized bees in their mouths so when they bark they shoot bees at you.

Multimedia was inevitable (4, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187443)

Even if Gopher had dominated due to filtering (a premise I don't agree with), multimedia capabilities would have eventually been added to the protocol out of demand. We'd have the same web we have today.

Re:Multimedia was inevitable (3, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187515)

Even if Gopher had dominated due to filtering (a premise I don't agree with), multimedia capabilities would have eventually been added to the protocol out of demand. We'd have the same web we have today.

Eventually, maybe, but exposure drives demand; if it had stalled long-enough for, say, cable and phone companies to deliver substantial non-free interactive multimedia outside of the context of the web first, its very likely that nothing socially like the current web would have existed any time near now, even if many of the individual features that are important about the web were available in one form or another on some networked electonic system that was widely available elsewhere.

Re:Multimedia was inevitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187963)

To play devils advocate for a second.

Isn't that exactly what happened for a lay person who wasn't technical enough to use bbs's, gopher, ftp, telnet etc?

I had a prodigy, aol and a compuserve account way before i had a delphi account (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delphi_online_service) or access to a university with internet access.

Those companies were doing multimedia to some degree for the common folk way before those people found the internet and realized they could get much more for free.

I'm more curious what the world would be like if it was reversed (or maybe i'm not).

Re:Multimedia was inevitable (2, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188019)

Eventually, maybe, but exposure drives demand; if it had stalled long-enough for, say, cable and phone companies to deliver substantial non-free interactive multimedia outside of the context of the web first, its very likely that nothing socially like the current web would have existed any time near now, even if many of the individual features that are important about the web were available in one form or another on some networked electonic system that was widely available elsewhere.

You have plenty proprietary network examples; CompuServe, GEnie, Prodigy, Sierra Network, AOL. Some are certainly more multi-media than others. But the common issue is that they were all their own digital islands. That worked well for decades. Until the Internet consumed public consciousness (and AOL launched the September that never ended [wikipedia.org] ).

The power of the 'web isn't in multi-media delivery. That's not to say it isn't important. But there is a more fundimental feature; ubiquity. For all the features the previous online services provided, they stopped as soon as you wanted to talk to someone who wasn't in that service.

This is further defined by the true killer application of the Internet; email. Email was almost exclusively text at that point (and already popular within the aforementioned online services). It largely remains about text today (despite occasional HTML-and-image laden "special messages" from various commercial entities).

Re:Multimedia was inevitable (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188205)

The power of the 'web isn't in multi-media delivery. That's not to say it isn't important. But there is a more fundimental feature; ubiquity.

Ubiquity, a feature of the internet, was a consequence of multimedia, a feature of the web -- almost anyone could get access to the internet for many years before the web was popular (I remember first looking into local ISP options in ~1991.) Comaparatively few people did until the web was popular because there was no appeal to most people. The internet, which had been around for quite sometime, became omnipresent because it offered something which rapidly drew wide interest, and that was the multimedia offered by the the web.

Re:Multimedia was inevitable (4, Interesting)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188437)

The internet, which had been around for quite sometime, became omnipresent because it offered something which rapidly drew wide interest, and that was the multimedia offered by the the web.

Not at all. Email was the killer app. And that wasn't multi-media.

I remember trying to get an Internet connection in '91. It wasn't to be had where I was. I had to "borrow" a link from the local university. I got involved with an outfit opening up an ISP in the area. And while firing up Netscape got folks really happy, it was email that got the subscription. Folks wanted to be able to email their kids off at college. We were in a military town with a base who was on a constant deployment schedule (myself included). Military families bought subscriptions as soon as they realized email was (almost) instant compared to the 2 weeks it took for snail-mail to make it across the pond and into sandland.

Now, to be sure, for me... the 'web was a killer app as well. I remember being all giddy over clicking a link that had a .au in it's URL (and not paying LD charges). This was the realization of Clarcke's 2010. And then I was pulling up images of all matter of content - from magazines to hobbies to... well.. other interests.

But all of this would be window dressing if it wasn't for the fact that I can email anyone no matter what service provider they use. And when I want to bring up Megacorp Hobby's web page to order supplies to do a project I read about on some enthusiast's private underwater basket weaving fan site... I don't have to worry about the provider then either.

The underpinnings to this all is ubiquity. I had a lot of these features during the years I used CompuServe, et. al. And services like Sierra Network were pushing the graphics / multi-media angle. But none of them hooked me up with a fan site in Australia.

Re:Multimedia was inevitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188219)

You forgot MSN. MSN was going to make the Internet obsolete.

Re:Multimedia was inevitable (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188277)

You know - you're right. There was all that fear about MSN eating AOL's lunch; the unfair advantage MS would have putting a MSN shortcut on the desktop. And then there was the Internet.

Re:Multimedia was inevitable (1)

StuffMaster (412029) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188769)

Yes, exactly! The magic of the web is that it was designed so minimally. HTML and HTTP, that was it. The rest is up to the user, and we know that turned out pretty well. We have google, wikipedia, web frameworks and CMS's by the dozen...the simplicity and looseness eventually became its strength. A properly engineered and structured system might not have grown as useful!

If the www wasn't invented by Tim and gopher had become the dominant medium, then obviously people would have extended it as they did the web. The real question is...how would it compare? Would gopher have been extended and plied as well as the web? Or would design decisions have made it more structured...more like what scifi used to think future computers would be like; useful and powerful, but with a very defined role.

We now have websites that spring up every day to cater to our every need -- for free! That aspect alone I think is a consequence of the way the web evolved. Anyway, I always wonder about that, whether different possibilities would have been as good, or whether we got lucky and scored a big win :)

Re:Multimedia was inevitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188329)

Except instead of the World Wide Web it would be called the Super Gopher which personally I'd prefer.

Re:Multimedia was inevitable (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188461)

I agree, I don't think gopher would have become popular as just a text protocol. The internet might have stagnated waiting for multimedia to be shoehorned into gopher. People seem to like the pictures, movies, motion and all the other bling, preventing all that probably would have stunted the internet's popularity. If people didn't really want the pictures, they could just stick with lynx, and that really doesn't seem to be retaining any traction.

Re:Multimedia was inevitable (2, Insightful)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188703)

Probably. We already had things like compuserv, prodigy, BBS, fidonet, email, minitel, etc but it wasnt until Joe Sixpack could see photos, play music, and click with a mouse did it take off in the market. The command line, memorizing keyboards, etc is a real barrier to entry. A lot of FOSS people dont understand that.

Its equally, if not more likely, that someone would have just invented something web-like and leapfrogged over gopher like TBL did at CERN.

Not to mention PCs having multimedia capabilities was a novel idea at the time. Things like speakers, music & movie clips on the PC, and CD-ROMs were seen as revolutionary. They were already sick of text only interfaces and HTTP gave them what they wanted. Gopher never really had a chance.

Gopher was great (2, Interesting)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187491)

If Gopher had won we would have had more a focus on content than presentation. I hardly think this is a bad thing.

Re:Gopher was great (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187539)

Or we would have to download pdfs from ftp. Whee.

Re:Gopher was great (3, Informative)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187657)

Oh Archie [wikipedia.org] and Veronica [wikipedia.org] , how I miss thee.

Re:Gopher was great (2, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187885)

I'm not sure that's right.

The thing is, it's possible to architecturally separate presentation from content from metadata in HTML. Furthermore, people do care about presentation. Who are we to say they shouldn't? The problem is confusing the two.

Here's what I see wrong with the puritanical belief that outlawing presentation hanky-panky will keep the flock virtuously focused on content: people will cheat. When they think they can get away with it, they'll enthusiastically engage in all manner of abominations, like sticking their PowerPoints into gopher collections.

The miserable presentation capabilities of HTML actually did a lot more to promote the very idea that content was something independent from presentation and important in itself. After a bit of straying down the path of unnatural vice (font tags, tables for formatting etc), people discovered they could enjoy their presentation -- no more than that, they could enjoy a wide variety of presentations -- within the blessed institution of stylesheets.

Re:Gopher was great (3, Interesting)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188059)

Whoever said graphics on a web page is not content? Whoever said that the beautiful graphics intensive web pages today are not a form art? Is the only form of content is text? No! Is telling an artist they can only use a pencil and are not allowed to use any colours at all in their work reasonable limitations on an artist? No. Using colour, paint and so on gives you more capability that allows you to create even more exquisite content. The greater graphics capability of flash, and hopefully soon open spec web environment equivalents, allows one to portray and create art not possible with text.

Gophers? (2, Funny)

naveenkumar.s (825789) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187543)

Oh, not the little, brown, furry rodents.

I loved Gopher (5, Funny)

alienunknown (1279178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187567)

But I really prefer Badger [badgerbadgerbadger.com] over Gopher.

Thats what is really stopping me from getting an iPhone, because I can't access badger-net.

Re:I loved Gopher (4, Informative)

Dwedit (232252) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187813)

Badgerbadgerbadger.com is not connected with the creator of the flash movie, it is just some guy trying to profiteer over the meme. Stick with linking to the original authors, not the leeches.

Re:I loved Gopher (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187959)

Stick with linking to the original authors, not the leeches.

What kind of dick says something like that but then doesn't provide the link?

Re:I loved Gopher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188317)

He probably doesn't know the original link or its no longer active, and he just wants to bitch on slashdot to make himself feel important.

Re:I loved Gopher (3, Informative)

alienunknown (1279178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188745)

Badgerbadgerbadger.com is not connected with the creator of the flash movie, it is just some guy trying to profiteer over the meme. Stick with linking to the original authors, not the leeches.

I did a quick search for the badger flash vid before posting, and just took the first link I could find. I thought that was the original site at first. I hadn't seen the flash video in years so I didn't know the original URL.

The original is Here [weebls-stuff.com]

Re:I loved Gopher (2, Informative)

znerk (1162519) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188817)

Badgerbadgerbadger.com is not connected with the creator of the flash movie, it is just some guy trying to profiteer over the meme. Stick with linking to the original authors, not the leeches.

Except that badgerbadgerbadger.com's little flash movie has a link in the bottom right-hand corner of it, pointing to www.weebls-stuff.com [weebls-stuff.com] - the aforementioned original author.

Irritation (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187591)

People think that if Person X hadn't been around we might not have Technology Y. Okay, this is based on the idea that somehow Person X has some unique ability and only Person X can create Technology Y. Hate to break it to you, but you're not special. Neither is Person X. Second, the reason we have Technology Y is because we needed it. If those needs haven't gone away, then the pressure to fill that void remains -- and somebody else will come along and fill it eventually. Now you're right that maybe Betamax might have beaten VHS if not for a disturbance in the force, or it would have been HD-DVD instead of Bluray, or whatever... But we'd still have high density optical media. Gopher would have died simply because it didn't meet the needs of the population. Maybe it wouldn't be HTTP that replaced it five, or ten years later, but something like it would have been created.

Re:Irritation (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187725)

Hate to break it to you, but you're not special. Neither is Person X.

That is a crock of shit. I mean, I may not be special, but certain persons who helped shape the future of science (including computing) are. There is no denying the "specialness" of people like Nikola Tesla or Albert Einstein. Why, then, should you deny the specialness of someone who is arguably less special than they are, but more special than you are? Simple jealousy? History is chock-full of examples of people whose unique way of thinking changed the shape of our world, the canonical example being Newton. He saw things in a way that others did not, and he advanced science dramatically. Maybe Tim Berners-Lee is no Einstein or Newton or Tesla, but he is certainly an individual with unique thought and influence.

In any case, the argument here is actually that if we didn't have the processing power to do multimedia, that we would have had a dramatic population increase in gopherspace rather than exponential growth of the WWW. The only part of the argument that is stupid is that people were already serving images over gopher; you needed an external viewer, of course. But sooner or later, someone would have come up with a multimedia markup extension for gopher, and then gopher would have been the WWW, just with a different protocol.

Re:Irritation (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187947)

I think he meant "special" in terms of "no X, no Y, ever." Unique as in completely unique with no equal anywhere in the past or future (or present, hehe). Hence his usage of "unique" ...

Re:Irritation (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188117)

There is no denying the "specialness" of people like Nikola Tesla or Albert Einstein. Why, then, should you deny the specialness of someone who is arguably less special than they are, but more special than you are? Simple jealousy?

No. Success depends on a lot more than just a person's innate "specialness". Or I can be more blunt: They just happened to be in the right place, at the right time, and had what was needed. There have been hundreds of failed Nikola Teslas -- I could manufacture him on an assembly line and sprinkle copies throughout society and I'd be unlikely to reproduce what the original did, simply because the environmental factors would be lacking. I'm sorry, because I know everyone wants to feel special and unique, that they all have a shot at being great because of some innate "specialness" they have. But the truth is that without the right environmental circumstances, you're not going to be any different than me or a thousand other people with that same innate "specialness".

But sooner or later, someone would have come up with a multimedia markup extension for gopher, and then gopher would have been the WWW, just with a different protocol.

And in the last sentence you completely dismiss your own argument. Call me confused, but you're agreeing with me. Why?

Re:Irritation (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188301)

Success depends on a lot more than just a person's innate "specialness".

Sure, so what? That it depends on more than a person's "specialness" does not refute that "specialness" matters.

Or I can be more blunt: They just happened to be in the right place, at the right time, and had what was needed.

Yes, and to be equally blunt, hundreds of millions or billions of other people were around at the right time, very many of them at the same right place or one equally right; what was key is the "had what was needed" parted.

Sure, without any one of a small number of people, nuclear weapons would still have been developed, just later and perhaps by a different country. The effect on world history would, potentially, have been pretty significant.

More to the point at hand, had the preferences of gopher-preferring administrators prevailed in the early 1990s, we still eventually would probably have multimedia over popular network systems -- but with the internet already going through a slow growth before the explosion due to the web, it might have been after big firms got farther ahead of the ball, and missed much of the disruptive impact that the explosion of the internet that occurred because of the utility of the web had.

Re:Irritation (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188143)

History is chock-full of examples of people whose unique way of thinking changed the shape of our world, the canonical example being Newton. He saw things in a way that others did not, and he advanced science dramatically.

And yet Leibniz invented calculus too, independently and at about the same time. Methinks you need a better example.

Re:Irritation (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188767)

And yet Leibniz invented calculus too, independently and at about the same time. Methinks you need a better example.

From what I understand, they invented two different types of calculus. Also, there was some reason to suspect that Leibniz may have gotten the idea from Netwon, and they had quite a fight about it for many years.

Re:Irritation (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187737)

but you're not special.

Sometimes, but sometimes not. Given a set of tools and a problem to salve, I'm sure there will be duplicity in the different ways that they use the toosl to solve the problem. But every so often you do get one person who thinks a little differnt and does it in a unique way.

After they have done it in their unique way, it seems obvious that thigns can be done that way. But they had to think it up first. So sometimes peope lare special and thing would be differnt if they had not been there with thier unique idea.

Re:Irritation (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188251)

There are two concepts here. The first is the uniqueness of the individual. The second is the idea who's time has come.

I agree that history shows that there are certain ideas who's time has come. There are examples of certain revolutionary changes being worked on from different angles. And with hindsight, we can see that the change was only a matter of time.

But saying anyone could have brought about these changes sounds an awful lot like arm-chair quarter-backing; "yeah - I could have done that." There are individuals who're just in the right place at the right time. There are individuals who PUT themselves in the right place at the right time. And there are some individuals who are very unique in their understanding of something.

I agree so far as technology in general gets this black-box mythology surrounding it and the public tends to see those who shape it as some kind of dark wizard. However, I've also found that when you pull back the veil and look at what people were doing and the events involved, you still find some pretty amazing history. Sure, the story sometimes reveals that events were more important than the individual. But sometimes you still find some really amazing individuals.

Re:Irritation (2, Funny)

wzzzzrd (886091) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188699)

No. If I hadn't scratched my arse at that one time in the 90s, the default color of hyperlinks would be green.

You say that like they're different things (1)

taustin (171655) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187661)

I remember Gopher. Used it a bit, when I first got online. The WWW was to Gopher as Web 2.0 is to WWW. Really. The web was a natural progression of improvement from Gopher. It was wasn't called Gopher 2.0, much like Windows 95 wasn't called Windows 4.0. It was a new version, and somebody though it woudl be good to give it a new name.

Nothing has changed (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187679)

"In the early 1990s, the World Wide Web was a power-hungry monster unpopular with network administrators"

As I write this, Firefox is using 300mb of ram and 100% of one core, so not much has changed since then.

A Gopher World (1, Interesting)

Earthquake Retrofit (1372207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187687)

Wasn't it really at heart a search engine? In a Gopher world there would be no Google. And it sounds like what it does 'go-fer' instead of a marketing name.

it would be the same (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187701)

if gopher had won we would have ended up extending it to be able to embed references to ftp or tftp hosted files, and tftp would have been an important part of the internet instead of a rarely used protocol.

the only difference users would see would be that the text of a page would load first and URLS would all start with gopher:// [gopher]

Re:it would be the same (3, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187975)

the only difference users would see would be that the text of a page would load first and URLS would all start with gopher:// [gopher]

The only reason the text of a page doesn't load first today is that web browsers are badly behaved. Firefox will often refuse to render a page until it gets all the content. That's not the most aggravating thing about it though; if a connection is reset, then Firefox now shows you a page saying that it was reset, instead of the page content that it DID successfully manage to download. I don't know who's responsible for this "feature" but it's fucking stupid. It made the web mostly unusable when I was on a modem, because I'd be happily reading a page, some ad would fail to load, and then Firefox tells me the page failed to load. Whoever made that decision should definitely be asked to justify it, or asked to fuck off immediately.

Re:it would be the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188311)

Let's respond with that old open source chestnut. If you don't like how it works, fix it yourself!

Serious doubt about tftp (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188065)

I don't see tftp as ever having been an important part of the internet over long-haul connections. Tftp would have been what it was intended to be and is, a very straightforward protocol that can be implemented with incredibly tiny footprint with little risk of getting it wrong. Notably:
-TCP is *much* better at reliable communication without penalty. TFTP is intentionally dumb, send a block, ack a block, send a block, ack a block. Again, easy to write, horrible performance. In TCP we have adjusting window sizes and partial acknowledgements and all sorts of features where acks are not required as often and data retransmit on fail is more granular. You can implement a UDP based protocol with some features, but it would no longer be remotely like tftp.
-TFTP has a 16-bit block number field. That makes for some tiny filesizes unless you have ludicrous block size. If you have ludicrous block size, any single packet drop would require retransmit of the entire thing. This could have been increased, but not without breaking compatibility and effectively making a new protocol.

And now, imagine the Web without IE and Flash (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187709)

Imagine what the Web could be like today, if it had not been for Microsoft's anti-web-standards Internet Explorer and Macromedia's CPU-wasting Flash.

Re:And now, imagine the Web without IE and Flash (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188071)

Imagine what the Web could be like today, if it had not been for Microsoft's anti-web-standards Internet Explorer and Macromedia's CPU-wasting Flash.

It would be paradise for the BBS Geek with with his VGA monitor and 14K modem.

Re:And now, imagine the Web without IE and Flash (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188801)

It would be paradise for the BBS Geek with with his VGA monitor and 14K modem.

TradeWars 2002, woot!

Re:And now, imagine the Web without IE and Flash (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188477)

Yes I too long for the good old days of Netscape's anti-web-standards Navigator and Sun's CPU-wasting Java.

Bring the Gopher (2)

LaminatorX (410794) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187789)

Every time I have to sit through a bunch of crappy Flash or out of control javascript, I find myself wishing I could get a decent gopher feed.

Save us? (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187811)

They condemned the web forever!

Gopher was JUST FINE!

I miss... (0, Offtopic)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187827)

My gopher pr0n!

It's alright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187857)

I can't help but hear Kenny Loggins singing. It's alright. When I saw the title.

Geek imagination (1)

GreenCow (201973) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187915)

Your time spent imagineering alternate universes clearly shows that you have too much time on your hands [xkcd.com] .

Pornovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187917)

This article doesn't take into account the idea of porn driving many technological innovations. Gopher-web might've lasted longer if admins could throttle the WWW, but Gopher isn't much for porn..

I don't get it. (1)

NerveGas (168686) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187937)

Early 90's computers...486DX2? Pentium 90? That's enough to route much more traffic than any of the nodes at that time could even conceive of, and can do QoS to boot.

Doesn't Gopher run on port 70, making it easy to prioritize over port 80 traffic? It would seem (although I could be completely wrong) that the biggest holdback wasn't hardware, just that QoS hadn't really been brought to fruition in time.

I doubt it (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187961)

I doubt gopher would have met the needs of the internet as well as the web, and would have been sufficient. The combination of HTTP and HTML has been proven to be enormously successful. Gopher would have needed some major work to make it as flexible as HTML. Web would have probably have replaced Gopher in any case. The design of the web is more practical and better thought out than gopher.

Gopher web is a series of tubes^D^D^Dnnels. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188049)

Gopher web is a series of tubes^D^D^Dnnels.

Saved us? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188239)

Some of us don't like where the bloated, cpu and bandwidth wasting internet is heading. A world where gopher survived and flourished doesn't sound all that bad.

"text-only" web (0, Flamebait)

philipgar (595691) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188253)

Am I the only one who found this quote from the article ironic:

"Although it now stretches to fewer than 100 sites there is still fun to be had in the text-only web, providing your web browser still supports Gopher."

I think the author of this article either doesn't know what he's talking about or got confused. Gopher sites are not part of the web at all, and definitely aren't part of some "text-only" web. Maybe text-only gopher, but definitely not the web.

Phil

What is the World Wide Web? (0, Troll)

Caboosian (1096069) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188303)

I've wondered this often, and often looked up articles about it. However, I'm still stumped. Yes, I understand that it is a "network of networks" - but how does it work? What the hell is a DNS server? I get how my home network works (vaguely) - IP addresses/subnets are assigned, and the computers communicate with the router and vice versa. However, once you extrapolate this to the web, I'm lost. Could a helpful slashdotter please give some sort of explanation? The Wikipedia article is kind of over my head in some spots, and completely unhelpful in others. It'd be real helpful to read an explanation from a real person.

Net Neutrality (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188341)

Had they been able to use data filtering technology to prioritize gopher traffic Topolski thinks the World Wide Web might not have survived.

So in other words, Net Neutrality saved the web?

All they needed was prioritized traffic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188389)

to make Gopher rule? Aha! Proof that network neutrality builds a better network!

OTOH...

I sort of liked Gopher, and now it's gone.

OMG! Network Neutrality killed Gopher!

I predicted the failure of Mosaic... (3, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188411)

after seeing it on a secretary's desktop at NASA in the early 90s. My comment was very close to "Yeah, but I can already get all that with gopher; I don't think it will take off." Now, in my defense, just six months later I predicted that in a few years you would see panel trucks with web addresses instead of 800 numbers. The couple of people I told that to looked at my like _I_ was crazy. Damn, I wish I would have put my retirement savings behind that thought.

Until mosaic, gopher was far better (1)

vanyel (28049) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188469)

In 1993, I heard about this "world wide web" thing and tried it. I think it was "www", some really awful command line tool. gopher worked far better at the time and was much easier to use. Then Mosaic came out and changed the world. I think you could have done a multimedia gopher along the same lines though; it maybe wouldn't have been quite as flexible, but as far as bandwidth consumption goes, media is media...

The name Lynx was choosen because it eats Gophers (1)

montulli (658308) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188525)

In the pre WWW era, Gopher ruled because there wasn't a better alternative. The big complaint was the lack of layout control and flexibility for expansion. Lynx came about as a fusion of the Gopher network protocol and a hypertext interface. Eventually Lynx adopted HTTP and HTML as additional methods and became an extremely popular Web browser. (More users than any of the individual Mosaic browsers.) There was a strong demand for better layout and flexibility and regardless of what network administrators wanted, these features would have evolved.

Minitel! (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188719)

My geek imagination is now all atwitter imagining an alternate gopher-driven universe.

That sounds a lot like Minitel [wikipedia.org] .

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