Yes, I said the Gopher Internet. No, I donâ€™t mean little rodent things.You see, way back before these new-fangled graphical web browsers like Firefox and Internet Explorer were invented, there were two Webs. There was the world wide web, and then there was the Gopher web.
The World Wide Web has, obviously, gotten pretty popular. Youâ€™re using it right now. Itâ€™s estimated that there are more than 12 billion publicly accessible websites on the WWW today.
Gopher,meanwhile, has stagnated. According to the biggest Gopher search engine, there were less than 100 Gopher sites left in the world as of 2007. And Mozilla has announced that future versions of Firefox (starting with Firefox 4) will not even be able to display Gopher sites.
Gopher is dying, and will soon be gone entirely. There are a huge number of things that have contributed to itâ€™s failure as an opposing standard to the WWW, from poor marketing to licensing fees to the fact that itâ€™s named after a type of rodent. Itâ€™s like Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD, only less people care.
You probably havenâ€™t even heard of Gopher before. And who can blame you? Itâ€™s a fading star, now only used by nostalgic geeks. But believe it or not, thereâ€™s some cool stuff on the Gopher internet. Why limit yourself?
Crash Course In Gopher Websites
Most URLâ€™s youâ€™ve seen probably start with http://. For example, this URL to this website is http://www.tekeeze.com. Gopher URLs, on the other hand, always start with gopher://. The URL to the Gopher search engine mentioned above is actually gopher://gopher.floodgap.com.
Gopher websites are not known for their flashy designs, colorful fonts, or for lots of images. They usually consist of text and links. If you donâ€™t like reading unless itâ€™s a picture book, you might not like Gopher.
Iâ€™ll admit, it wasnâ€™t easy finding the links listed below. With so few Gopher sites out there these days, I was hard pressed to find even seven that would appeal to a general audience like the people who visit this site.
Having said that, I think you might find you like some of the ones I did manage to find. Take a lookâ€¦
7 Sites Only Available On The Gopher Internet
- Online Book Initiative is a free collection of public domain books much like Gutenberg, only on Gopher. Read full-length books from authors such as Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, William Shakespeare, Arthur Conan Doyle, and many others.
- Groundhog Weather Updates – This site provides up-to-date weather data, moon phases, and more for selected cities in the United States and the world, without any banner ads, or indeed any graphics or color at all. Plus, it has yet another clever rodent name!
- Ascii Text Art Generator – Enter a phrase, pick a font, and voila! Your text is instantly converted to ascii art. As a closet fan of ascii art, I actually think this one is really, really cool â€” I just bookmarked it.
- Twitpher – â€œTwitter For Gophersâ€ – As this siteâ€™s tagline says, â€œForget Web 2.0. The time has come for Gopher 2.0.â€ You can access the latest twitterings in 100% text-only, graphics-free Gopher awesomeness.
- Seanâ€™s Humor Site has pages and pages of jokes collected by a fun-loving Gopher user named Sean MacLennan. I was trying to decide whether to include Seanâ€™s page in this article, but after reading some of the stuff on there and laughing, I figured I had to.
- Music! Find free, legal MP3s from popular bands like Stop Asking Stupid Questions, Bread and Freedom, Jazzilla, and Tea Man With Tea Gum. All four of those bands are part of the â€œnoiseâ€ genre, which does sound an awful lot like radio static, but still.
- Fortunes – This website lets you play with â€œfortune,â€ an old Linux app that randomly displays fun qoutes from famous people, sayings like the kind you see on fortune cookies at Chinese restuarants, and other funny messages.
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