Does anyone use alternate web protocols like Gopher/Gemini?

dreamsphere

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It has come to my attention that the clearnet is not going to be saved. There are far too many corporate interests, 5 or 6 companies control a vast majority of the network, everything is social media platformed to hell, and search engines return purposefully garbage results intended to lobotomize the population.

Do any of you use these alternate protocols? I have started reading Gopher/Gemini pages inside of Emacs (using Elpher) and the simplicity is a breath of fresh air - it's just text and blog posts, with pretty solid information, like the web of 2 decades ago.
 
there is/was also this sharenet, but forgot name of it
 
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I've tried out both Gopher and Gemini, but they just felt like stripped down HTTP. I've never really understood the appeal. There are lots of interesting applications of HTTP that it seems like Gopher and Gemini couldn't be used for. Is there something that Gopher or Gemini does that's better than HTTP?
 
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vulonkaaz

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I'm not really the kind of person who read text I'm more of an aesthetic kind of guy so it should be no surprise that I don't get too hyped at the idea of a strictly text only hypertext protocol

won't ever save the free Internet as there is nothing that Gemini can do that HTTPS can't, it mostly is a toy for computer nerds that like text and it is really good at being that
now THAT's a really based toy for computer nerds, also has the merit of being a tool as it provides an actual uncensorable anonymous p2p network
 
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dreamsphere

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I'm not really the kind of person who read text I'm more of an aesthetic kind of guy so it should be no surprise that I don't get too hyped at the idea of a strictly text only hypertext protocol

won't ever save the free Internet as there is nothing that Gemini can do that HTTPS can't, it mostly is a toy for computer nerds that like text and it is really good at being that

now THAT's a really based toy for computer nerds, also has the merit of being a tool as it provides an actual uncensorable anonymous p2p network
My understanding the i2p is the freenet successor at this point, as freenet is mostly abandoned. I could be incorrect about this
 

vulonkaaz

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My understanding the i2p is the freenet successor at this point, as freenet is mostly abandoned. I could be incorrect about this
i haven't checked none of those two things in a while but ain't i2p basically just TOR but different ? Freenet stores the websites in a peer to peer manner on all the nodes of the network while i2p is just onion routing
InterPlanetary File System
I never managed to figure that thing out
 
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№56

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I've spent some time looking through Gemini and every single site I found was either unfinished (the classic neocities-style "about me" page and nothing else) or a proof of concept (someone hosting a site just to see if they could.) It had the same problem with lack of interesting content that the "indie web" in general has, but cranked up to 11 as a result of the protocol's limitations and obscurity. I like the idea, but alternate protocols are never going to take off unless there's a concerted effort to use them to create stuff that's actually worth reading.
At some point I want to help out by mirroring my own site on Gemini or something similar, but that would depend on how easy it is to convert the html.
 
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dreamsphere

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I've spent some time looking through Gemini and every single site I found was either unfinished (the classic neocities-style "about me" page and nothing else) or a proof of concept (someone hosting a site just to see if they could.) It had the same problem with lack of interesting content that the "indie web" in general has, but cranked up to 11 as a result of the protocol's limitations and obscurity. I like the idea, but alternate protocols are never going to take off unless there's a concerted effort to use them to create stuff that's actually worth reading.
At some point I want to help out by mirroring my own site on Gemini or something similar, but that would depend on how easy it is to convert the html.
From my brief exploration thusfar, gemini looks as most of it is just mirrors of clearnet sites just without any css/javacript. A few guys who have gone off the grid and a gemini site is about all they can host on their SBC's.

I agree to your sentiment about the "create stuff worth reading" - it seems the http protocol makes sense commercially, thus promoting people to invest more in it. However there isn't much quality on the clearnet these days!
 

dreamsphere

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i haven't checked none of those two things in a while but ain't i2p basically just TOR but different ? Freenet stores the websites in a peer to peer manner on all the nodes of the network while i2p is just onion routing

I never managed to figure that thing out
There was also Zeronet a few years back, but the project appears to be dead.

I2P is it's own internet, whereas TOR adds obfuscation to the existing internet with additional hidden services.
 

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I2P is it's own internet, whereas TOR adds obfuscation to the existing internet with additional hidden services.
in my way of viewing things, TOR is it's own internet with obfuscation for the clear web as an additional feature
 
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Gopher was fun to look through. Big enough that you could sometimes find a cool hidden place but small enough it felt manageable. The only posting I've ever done on a chan-style site ("imageboard" except not) was on Gopher.

It has zero chance of ever replacing HTTP because people love their videos. I'd be very happy if it got used more to store text-based information - recipes, software manuals - the exact stuff SEO and the modern web has turned to shit. Instead of relying on >redditcostanzayeahrightsmirk for useful results and having spez's smug face looming overhead you'd go to Gopher. It's a nice dream.
 

handoferis

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I dabbled with gemini and gemspace, even put something up, but I mostly disengaged because frankly, the kind of people that use it don't seem to write anything I fancy reading.
 
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I've spent some time looking through Gemini and every single site I found was either unfinished (the classic neocities-style "about me" page and nothing else) or a proof of concept (someone hosting a site just to see if they could.) It had the same problem with lack of interesting content that the "indie web" in general has, but cranked up to 11 as a result of the protocol's limitations and obscurity. I like the idea, but alternate protocols are never going to take off unless there's a concerted effort to use them to create stuff that's actually worth reading.
At some point I want to help out by mirroring my own site on Gemini or something similar, but that would depend on how easy it is to convert the html.
A niche within a niche. It's ok, but if the groups treat it as further division between themselves, rather than diversity, they will end up more conquered than less. Infighting and antagonizing. I would also (personally) keep these variants away from (most) beginners. For many getting started, less choice is a good thing. There's also (imo) a lack of meeting people halfway with these. Like, either you're a instasnapbooktokker or 1980's haXor, surely there are happy middles, like TOR
 
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Imo, an important part of having a website is making it easy to access. This is why people shill out money for domains, for example. Gemini, even if cool, is antithetical to that. It requires highly specific knowledge to access.

Virtually all technormies don't even know what an HTTP or HTTPS is, never mind the fact that there are other protocols available.
 
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dreamsphere

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Imo, an important part of having a website is making it easy to access. This is why people shill out money for domains, for example. Gemini, even if cool, is antithetical to that. It requires highly specific knowledge to access.

Virtually all technormies don't even know what an HTTP or HTTPS is, never mind the fact that there are other protocols available.
Agreed. But I don't see this as a downside -

I am trying to get away from the technormies. So, frankly, the darknet and/or these alternate platforms seem like a internet of 20 years ago where you don't have to interact with the people that have made the clearnet so garbage. Blogs in and of themselves filter people because it's not "soycial media".
 

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Virtually all technormies don't even know what an HTTP or HTTPS is, never mind the fact that there are other protocols available.
Most webservers configure HTTP to point to HTTPS, and HTTPS internally uses HTTP with SSL encryption around it. Gopher has issues of file format carrying along old format issues(80 char long sentences, weird formatters...). Gemini effectively fixes Gopher. Gopher was available in Chrome for a time, though its issues was styling(chrome didn't bother applying any styling so it looked like your normal garbage txt files transferred over HTTPS). Gopher isn't really worth discussion, beyond Gemini implementing SSL certs and these SSL certs being self-signed. The first point this is mandatory, while HTTP doesn't so HTTP is inherently a MITM attack waiting to happen. I remember back in 2012, 66% of sites or something like that still used HTTP. I'm probably wrong, but it's still a flaw. That said, forcing SSL-certs on, increases E-Waste... EVER SO SLIGHTLY, as effecient decryption and encryption via SSL is done on hardware, not in software(usually...) so old systems without the new security hardware struggles. SSL cryptographic hardware was implemented around the turn of the century(1995 for first implementation of SSL). It was computationally expensive, so HTTP and Gopher were around. HTTPS is a bandaid over HTTP. Gopher has no equivalent bandaid, so any time it asks for user input(are there even still Gopherholes that take user input?) this is MITM-vulnerable.

As for obscurity of protocol: your browser implements a lot of protocols you aren't even aware of. There's the obvious ones, http, and https, but then there's also magnet:// for torrents, ws:// for websockets, gopher:// for gopher(I think Lynx still has gopher support but Chrome doesn't since a decade ago). ftp:// for file transfer. file:// for files(this IS its own protocol and your file browser views files this way).

Gemini's big protocol change is SSL-first, and self-signed SSL certificates. I won't get into the latter because I don't know. I think it's an improvement over blindly trusting big cert authorities but idk much. SSL-first adds a computation tax. This should be enough to drop the argument of accessibility to the protocol for technonormies as all these that I listed are inaccessible protocols, but there for other very good reasons. What it needs is suitable technical merits and implementations, but gemini as a protocol offers none, bar those SSL cert points(you can also use self-signed certs for your HTTPS site but self-signed certs are advised against here iirc)

The main appeal of it, is the format that's a reduction of markdown and easier to parse, and it's wide number of usecases. See gemsub as an alternative to RSS. It's prettier and RSS is a really shit garbage XML format. The fact most people use javascript and static site generators or generators in general for RSS and for HTML indicate something is terribly wrong with HTML and RSS. I wonder if it's due to XML....
1694270736636.png

A different question could be raised. Why can't browsers take a number of file types interpreted by file extension and render them according to user defaults. I.E. .gmi markdown, regular .md markdown. fastn as another example. This would completely reduce a lot of browsers down to the following:
  • Accurate interpretation and implementation of protocol spec.
  • Accurate interpretation and implementation of document rendering spec given user defaults for browser. Hell, this point could(should where possible?) be extracted out, as PDFs get opened in your system's PDF viewer, or emails in your system's email viewer, images in your system's image viewer... so on
Your file browser already does this with local files, and also works on other protocols too(ftp as an example)

The obvious counterpoint here is "what about sandboxing these for security". Well if your format is pure and not a script-format, sandboxing is unnecessary(windows documents sites with javascript). Even modern javascript developers are realising things are better to be done server-side(look at modern nextjs with server-side components and a general move towards server-side computation) and they return a pure format(html with forms and submissions is still a pure text format). As for those formats that need scripting like this, you need sandboxing of some type, hence a browser, hence the unworkable W3C spec that has... problems...
 
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Gemini is just an experiment that I think is meant to influence people into inventing new kinds of protocols and interactions on the Internet that are not based around TCP/IP + HTTP. In that, I think it's cool. But practically, it's too limited to even be fun (at least for me personally. Some people disagree which is good)

I haven't used Gopher in any practical capacity since browsing library catalogs back in the early 2000s

As for obscurity of protocol: your browser implements a lot of protocols you aren't even aware of. There's the obvious ones, http, and https, but then there's also magnet:// for torrents, ws:// for websockets, gopher:// for gopher(I think Lynx still has gopher support but Chrome doesn't since a decade ago). ftp:// for file transfer. file:// for files(this IS its own protocol and your file browser views files this way).
Unfortunately protocols such as FTP have been dropped entirely (due to "bloat" they claim, but modern browsers also have weird things like 3D rendering and MIDI device capability). Also with the implementation of CORS, even things like using file:// have been crippled made so secure that you can't run anything. Even for basic projects, you generally have to load up a webserver just to access the files that the browser can already get to through the filesystem. I mean, while security is good, it also heightens the barrier to entry for just wanting to fuck around and try things out
 
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