Midnight Pub



I like text. I was drawn to Gopher and discovered Gemini because I am nostalgic for the “reader’s web” of last century.

But that doesn’t mean text stands alone. Books are typeset and have covers. Even spartan (maybe brutalist) websites like my own have some branding. It’s important to many authors to “sign their work” and thus I believe a capsule should be allowed a coat of paint (accent color) or a mission badge (favicon).

There is also an aesthetic component to reading beyond word. To deny inline images while ASCII art is common is … just weird.

When I suggested as much on gemini-l, I was quickly shouted down. First by a student younger than my website, which I put online while getting my psychology degree, who proceeded to lecture me about user intent. He and others have a slavish devotion to avoiding multiple network requests for one “document” which descends from a valid principle of protecting privacy but has become quite disconnected from it.

I am tempted to write a server that implements a back channel of reder fingerprinting just as a proof of concept against this naive stance.

So it seems the mailing list is going through a neckbeard phase. I hope it grows out of it, but for now I will ignore it but continue exploring Geminispace.

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~rtr wrote (thread):

I personally think that there's merit in constraint. It breeds creativity and allows people to produce ingenious solutions for the problems that they encounter.

Imagine if chess changes its fundamental rules every now and then. Maybe the board size increases a square every two hours or so. That simple rate of change on chess would hamper solutions that people could come up to in solving their problems.

Full disclosure: I'm neither a professional programmer nor a ``standards'' expert.

~gerwitz wrote:

Since I’m sub-tweeting the mailing list anyway 😛 … Now they’re talking about metadata.

There is a consensus (among the loud voices) that metadata should never affect presentation. It’s really, really important to these people that Gemini remain only “pure” text. (Well, except for headings, lists, quotes, code samples, and ASCII art). But, no use arguing.

The funnier part is the discussion over metadata “tagging”. Which they shouldn’t call tagging because, let’s admit that word already has incompatible meanings this century?

So now a bunch of amateurs are trying to devise metadata standards and ignoring e.g. RFC2413. I dare not bring that up, though, because that’s a Web standard and it grew into the ridiculously heavy Dublin Core world of RDF and whatnot. At least some of the GML (Gemini Mailing List) cult appears convinced that they can avert the extended-beyond-control fate of the Web by simple avoiding any Web standards.

What they don’t see is that this happened to Dublin Core was too many people on mailing lists naval-gazing about imagined use cases, as they do now.

They do see an important truth: the extensibility of HTML is part of what gave rise to browser monoculture, with Mosaic and <IMG> eventually becoming <SCRIPT> and XMLHttpRequest. The problem is they think they can avoid this by saying “no” on a mailing list.

I’m hopeful, though! I think Gemini will actually succeed (for a meaningful time), because the Web already exists.

~pink2ds wrote (thread):

I unsubscribed a while ago. I'd rather be happy than be on there.

I like images. I'm an artist. The first thing I put up on my own capsule was a list of images I've made.

Regarding inline images I remember with some trepidation how the early web was broken by 1×1 spacer gifs, by emulating fonts by way of image (as an example of this, see Paul Graham's or Scott McCloud's websites which are both from this era and are still set up that way), and by huge site-replacing images.

Scott McCloud

Paul Graham

That was pretty awful.

I also remember books where all the images were in a special section in the middle. You had to flip back and forth. That wasn't too bad.

Maybe it's fine to visit the illustrations via link. Maybe that can be OK. With Lagrange you can even optionally, on the client side, choose to load them in one at a time. Maybe it's OK that the format only does semantics and doesn't do presentation.

I sometimes liken the appeal to an SMS or a chat message. It's nice that the person I'm talking to isn't trying to select fonts, colors and such. It's nice that we're just writing to each other and that that's the focus.

~inquiry wrote (thread):

I understand the desire for more than text. And, in a way, focusing away from html seems a bit silly given one can be fairly minimal (in the "absence of other than text" sense) therein.

But I've fondness for those fond of said unnecessarily radical departure. I want to encounter them. Read them. Exchange winks with them over how the seemingly endless expansion of html (I'm looking at you, Javascript) is probably more about bringing idiots into the information fold - despite idiocy having natural enmity with with information - seemingly a sort of evolutionary branch off the good 'ole Eternal September....

To me, far too many webpages have become jokes of modal interruptions and html entity shifts: "Hey! It's time to insert a new chunk of advertising right where text you *almost* grasped *was*... good luck finding it again, and maybe sorta kinda establishing the mental context you might have attained unto minus the interruption(s)!"

(And of course that's giving said code monkeys *waaaaaay* too much acuity credit....)

Maybe Gemini's a natural - though unexpected in some minds - child of minimalism?

Whatever. Main point is I've experienced nothing but cool people fond of said protocol and space. I'll take is mention as evidence of fun intelligence in the vicinity.

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