Long Live Gopher: The Techies Keeping the Text-Driven Internet Alive

Gopher, an protocol for distributing documents and files over the internet, has a lot of similarities to the web, but also some major differences: For one thing, a gopher server is organized around a set hierarchy, akin to mixing a text document and a file server together.

That’s unlike the web, whose hierarchy is fluid, driven more by the structure of HTML files. Additionally, features like search and the ability to connect to other protocols, like FTP (File Transfer Protocol), were often baked into its structure, rather than offered using separate tools, like Google. In practice, this made Gopher servers much more lightweight than web servers.

But Gopher was a largely text-driven medium in a graphical world, and it faded from view not long after its 1993 peak.

That said, not everyone gave up on it. There is still a Gopher scene. It’s not like Twitter. It’s its own thing, with its own partisans and fans.Here’s where Gopher has been, along with where it’s going.

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