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Author Topic: Gemini, an internet protocol  (Read 3295 times)
m15o
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« on: December 25, 2021 @372.15 »

Dear Melonland Forum,

I hope you're comfortably sat down and ready to take on a new learning adventure. Make sure to prepare a nice cup of coffee, tea or water. You won't be disappointed. Gemini is one of my favorite topics, and I want to tell you more about it. But first, what's Gemini?

Gemini is an internet protocol. What's that, you ask? Right now, you're reading this post from the web, or rather, the World Wide Web. The web is a system that uses the Internet to let us access information. Web pages are built with HTML, CSS and JavaScript, can be linked to one another, and have a URL. They are accessed with a web browser like Firefox.

But Gemini isn't the Web. While it still uses Internet, it doesn't use HTML. It doesn't allow JavaScript and there's no CSS styling either. Oh and as a result, we can't access Gemini pages with a web browser.

So we understand that Gemini is like the Web but without HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Why would we want to do that?? We've got a perfectly working system. Why try to create something else? What problem does it solve?

And you'd be right to ask that! But before we dive into it, you should know that Gemini doesn't aim to replace the Web at all.

The current web is an incredible powerful beast. Browsers can show homepages, or run fully fledged applications like Figma. Even full games. As a result, web browsers became incredibly complicated softwares to create. Besides Mozilla and Google, almost no-one would have the engineering power to create a web browser from scratch. From a risk perspective, it's not safe when only two companies can drive a tool the whole planet use daily. Right now, it's hard to differentiate the Web from a Web Browser.

There's already a long history of the Web, even if the project isn't that old. Many features have been added over time. Some of them give us great power, like JavaScript and cookies. But with great power come great responsibility. And not all sites are responsible. There's a whole industry that built around the idea of monetizing user data (Marketing Tech, or Martech). If you're based in Europe, you might have seen the little pop-ups that arrive when you browse a site that asks for permission to track you.

As a result, web sites start to be bloated. Scripts, analytics tags, consent screens, loading unsollicited advertisement, automatically playing a video on the background as you scrolled past it take space and bandwidth. It's frustrating when you just really wanted to find a recipe.

Gemini was born out of these frustrations.

Gemini is a very simple protocol. This allows many people to create a Gemini browser. Gemini doesn't have many features, and that's by design. On Gemini, pages are only content, so it keeps them small. They are so small that it makes it perfect for low-bandwidth environment. With its lack of feature, there's no way to track anyone, or play video on the background. The protocol simply doesn't know about it.

But there's a trade-off to all of that. Gemini pages are text only. While you can include images, not all Gemini browsers will display them. Instead of HTML, Gemini uses something that looks a little like Markdown. It's called "gmi".

Here's an example:


# This is my title

Here is my page.


See? No HTML. As a result, there's no CSS either. But that doesn't stop people from being creative. If anything, this new constraint adds a new way for people to express themselves. We'll see that a little later!

But for now, how about we dive onto Gemini? Let's grab a browser first!

Go ahead and download Lagrange, a Gemini browser. You should be able to install it simply regardless of your OS.

Start it... Welcome to the Geminispace! If you look at the URL bar, you should see that instead of the usual "https://..." it says "gemini://...", that's because it's a whole new protocol, remember?

Alright, so let's start our journey over a place that's near and dear to me (mainly because I've created it!), the Midnight Pub! Before we dive into it, have a look at what it says:

Welcome to the Midnight, kind stranger! This little establishment aims to become your hide-out amidst the sprawling metropolis of bits and data the internet has become. Our furnitures might be a little old-school, but they'll hopefully offer you a dose of coziness which will only get enhanced by the bartender's carefully-crafted cocktails. You are currently standing in the entrance. If you look around, you will find the bar with its stools and jukebox, the lounge with fire crackling in the fireplace and a terrace that's open during the summer with a few tables.

To go there, just type "gemini://midnight.pub" on Lagrange and you should arrive. Feel free to hop around and see what people are saying.

There are a few themed places in the geminispace. Another one is called Cosmic Voyage (gemini://cosmic.voyage/). It's a collective writing place where people write "traveling logs" from their fictional spaceships.

How about a little music break? Head over to gemini://konpeito.media/ and download the latest mixtape.

There's no Google on Gemini, and that's my favorite part. Finding content happens by accident. There's no product to buy or bots. It's just humans writing and building "gemini capsules" (sites), often self-hosting them from their homes. Browsing Gemini feels relaxing. It's a similar sensation than reading a book.

While I don't know what the future holds for Gemini, I somehow hope it never becomes mainstream. I like that it's small and I like that it doesn't have many feature. It's almost like witnessing an alternative timeline of what the web could have been. It promotes a healthier approach to technology. I hope you like it too. :smile:
« Last Edit: May 16, 2022 @450.74 by Melooon » Logged

Icey!
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« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2021 @764.32 »

This is something I need to check out. Thanks for giving this, now I know why that one page you had as a link won't work.
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Obspogon
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« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2021 @954.78 »

Yeah, I know gemini.

Here's Astrobotany (gemini://astrobotany.mozz.us/), a gardening game
Search Engine (gemini://geminispace.inf:ha:smile:
Aggregator (gemini://gemini.circumlunar.space/capcom/)
Directory (gemini://medusae.space/index.gmi)

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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2021 @221.03 »

I've been curious about Gemini ever since stumbling onto midnight.pub while checking out your links, m15o, so the primer on the topic is greatly appreciated. It's definitely on my list of things to try out next. I like that the ideology behind it definitely appears to cultivate a culture I think is difficult to find in larger and mainstream web spaces. There is beauty in simplicity!
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versidue
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« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2022 @70.82 »

I started using gemini about a month ago after reading this thread!

I've mostly just wound up using it to check on my astrobotany plant :happy:
« Last Edit: February 19, 2022 @754.66 by versidue » Logged

Obspogon
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« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2022 @708.54 »

I've got a capsule now
gemini://tilde.town/~obspogon/
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m15o
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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2022 @346.98 »

Congrats for the capsule, Obspogon!
Have you started one yet, versidue? :smile:
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« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2022 @48.25 »

This is on my ever growing to-do list
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Obspogon
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« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2022 @117.60 »

Changed hosting: gemini://obspogon.flounder.online/
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« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2022 @600.25 »

ooo really like midnight pub (gemini://midnight.pub) and especially the writing style of some people, kinda reminds me of a forum i used to go on
i used to read it a lot in school/uni breaks last year cus it uses only miniscule mobile data
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« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2022 @443.69 »

Nice. I like going on Gemini sites on my spare time.

I'd actually recommend the Amfora (https://github.com/makeworld-the-better-one/amfora) command-line browser as that's the one that I use, supports a ton of OSes, and has a lot of neat keybinds and tricks some of the more barebones browsers (of which there are like 10?) don't feature.

Some of it is a bit tricky, and if you're using Windows you might have to fiddle around with codepage nonsense if you find sites with emojis in them (like mozz.us)
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cinni
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« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2022 @179.77 »

Nice. I like going on Gemini sites on my spare time.

I'd actually recommend the Amfora (https://github.com/makeworld-the-better-one/amfora) command-line browser as that's the one that I use, supports a ton of OSes, and has a lot of neat keybinds and tricks some of the more barebones browsers (of which there are like 10?) don't feature.

Some of it is a bit tricky, and if you're using Windows you might have to fiddle around with codepage nonsense if you find sites with emojis in them (like mozz.us)

ive been curious about trying a terminal browser for gemini! ive tried lagrange, geminaut, and twin peaks, and tend to gravitate towards lagrange the most lol :-/ i wish i could choose my own palette colors in lagrange like in twin peaks, but i like the other features enough to stay =X

i can't believe i haven't commented on this topic until now! i joined yestercities, a gemini capsule host, back in january. this is my capsule! (and html proxy link, best viewed with dark text on light background).

i really like gemini so far and even though it takes a bit of digging to find cool stuff, it's nice and cozy and cool new things are being developed for it that keep me interested. im not gonna lie, im very visual based and struggle with walls of text lmao, so gemini has been challenging for me in that aspect. i also wonder if it's because i don't have an compsci background like most of the demographic? u_u.

however i found gemini's text-only restriction to be a fun challenge to create some text-based art!! i felt inspired to create an ascii webcomic! (or *Cough* gemcomic) :-3 i like the idea of a piece of art that's super low tech and portable. my comic is just a retelling of an existing story, but it's been fun to experiment with different formats!

what are some of people's favorite capsules? for me, i looove astrobotany and am excited to see more capsules like this, (shout out to honeybees in space! i patiently await an update..:3). i also really like this archive of ansi art, which just makes me want to try a browser like amfora to see it the way it was intended, ha.



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« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2023 @936.98 »

i wanted to bring this thread up again to check in and see if folks have made any new capsules over the past few months! this is a great time to build up your capsule :)
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« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2023 @694.91 »

I wanted to drop by and say that the developer of Amfora is basically dropping Gemini. Amfora will now be in maintenance mode, among some other Gemini projects he made that are either entering maintenance or complete stop. Here's the post.

I see a lot of posts the past few weeks about people becoming uninterested in Gemini, or questioning its use. I wonder if it really was just a pandemic thing for many people.
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« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2023 @701.41 »

@shevek

Oh bummer! Yesterweb has an entire section of their manifesto regarding these niche technologies and I feel it applies to this case:

Quote
The use of specialized and obscure tools that require financial resources and maintenance work are still primarily in the hands of the people in the professional-managerial class.

I am sad to see it go but I feel like gemini was too exoteric to gain (and maintain) traction :/
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