What is Gopher?
Gopher is a highly-structured document retrieval protocol—good at showing you the files you want and need in a speedy, efficient, low overhead manner that skips the hassle of hunting for download links on websites. This means you spend less time getting annoyed, distracted, and tracked, and get on with your work much quicker.
This is my recently-overhauled reference section for Gopher, meant as a clearinghouse of the who, what, how, and why of Gopherspace. I hope you find it useful.
(Please note that some of the links below aren't populated yet! Stay tuned—I'll be updating this over time.)
If you're new to Gopher or simply curious, you should start here for explanations on why Gopher is so useful, the structure and documentation of the protocol, and how to know if you'll find Gopher useful.
- The rise and fall of the Gopher protocol (outgoing link)
- Not my writeup, but excellent nonetheless. A look into the leadup to Gopher's creation, its heyday, how UMN kneecapped it in one conference, and its cult status today. (I should mention that the article's "140 Gopher servers" has about doubled since it was written—and Somnolescent's one of them once again.)
- Why Gopher Will Succeed
- A manifesto of sorts of what I feel Gopher is still useful for, even in the present day.
- RFC 1436: The Internet Gopher Protocol (Mirror)
- This is the gold standard of Gopher reference documents, describing the protocol and its developer's intents. While I don't expect the original memo to disappear any time soon, I figured it's worth mirroring and formatting in proper HTML for ease of reading.
- Terminology (Maps? Menus? Globbing?)
- An overview of the jargon.
Users need special software to access Gopherspace. Some of this software is still useful, recommended, or even maintained, while others are thoroughly obsolete. Much like trying out web browsers, much of the fun of Gopherspace is trying out software—try a bunch!
(The majority of this section consists of reviews—simply my opinions with download links for the curious. Your mileage may vary.)
- What to Look for in a Gopher Client
- A list of must-haves and must-considers that you should keep in mind as you try out clients.
- Web Browsers as Clients
- As they share similar paradigms, web browsers used to fully support Gopher alongside HTTP. This page explores both browser clients and extensions for browsers for accessing Gopher servers.
- Standalone Gopher Clients
- Of course, standalone Gopher clients also exist, including apps for phones and tablets. Here's my reviews of those.
Many of Gopher's users are just as interested in maintaining their own space in the network. If that's you, these pages are what you need to know and what snags you might encounter in digging your own Gopherhole.