Gopher was an information search and retrieval system that became available the same year as the
World Wide Web. Developed by the University of Minnesota, it presented information in a standard
format that was much less flexible than HTML,but much easier to set up. However, as the need for
images and ads, and cascading style sheets took over, Gopher died.
The University of Minnesota open-sourced its Gopher implementation in 2000 and has since shut
down its Gopher server.
But Gopher is not dead! Enthusiasts keep it's spirit alive claiming it provides a much cleaner and more
efficient way of presenting text information than that unruly WWW thing.
Here's how to take a trip down the Gopher hole.
First you need a Gopher Client. Firefox will do. It never eliminated Gopher from it's legacy Netscape
code, though it could do with some updating. Serious Gopher users add the Overbite project plug-in
for a more robust experience.
Then start off by perusing Floodgap.com's index of gopher servers at
You can link from there to Veronica-2, the successor of the original Veronica search engine of days
Further in, among the Python code and Gopher log entries you'll find a Twitter browser at
Put a username after the question mark to see the Twitter stream of just one user.
If you still rail against Mosaic and the graphical Web that ruined the Internet, take a peaceful walk
down the safe image-free streets of Gopher.
It's kind of like those working pioneer-villages that suck in tourists. It's a trip back in time, but don't
forget people actually live there.
I'm Tom Merritt, CNET.com.
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