Article: 19 of comp.infosystems.gopher Path: usenet.ucs.indiana.edu!sol.ctr.columbia.edu!usc!sdd.hp.com!nigel.msen.com!nigel.msen.com!not-for-mail From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Edward Vielmetti) Newsgroups: alt.gopher,comp.infosystems.gopher Subject: Welcome to comp.infosystems.gopher! Followup-To: comp.infosystems.gopher Date: 7 Aug 1992 01:18:35 -0400 Organization: Msen, Inc. -- Ann Arbor, Michigan Lines: 57 Message-ID: Hello, and welcome to comp.infosystems.gopher. The newgroup message went out yesterday, and we're going to migrate traffic over from the old alt.gopher group into the brand new "official" group. gopher is a distributed information system. The best phrase I've heard to describe it is as "internet duct tape" - wrap a little bit of gopher protocol around some files or some databases and hey presto you have an Internet Service. As most people know information services on the internet are traditionally held together with spit and bailing wire, well, duct tape is an improvement. The newsgroup basically covers four areas of gopher development, which I'd list as gopher clients. Things that users run to connect to gopher servers. There are lots of these out there right now; most of them follow pretty closely in spirit to the original unix and mac gopher clients, though some radical ones ("gopher in a forest" for NeXT) push a different approach. The issues here are design, documentation and built-in help, bug fixes and improvements, human factors analysis, speed, robustness, and such. gopher servers. Systems that speak the gopher protocol. There are rather less server designs than client designs; most servers present essentially a file system point of view to the user, tho some are driven from databases. A number of other data resources have been gatewayed into gopher (e.g. netnews) with interesting results. The issues here are maintainability, shared resources access, logging and stats gathering, index and other wayfinding aids, etc. gopher protocol. What clients and servers send back and forth to each other. The gopher protocol is a ferociously simple ASCII protocol designed to make constructing clients and servers in an afternoon possible and even likely. Various extensions to the base protocol have been proposed to handle more client feechurs, with varying degrees of acceptance. Issues here are staying close to the One True Gopher Way with simple clients and servers without stopping people who want to do way cool advanced things from interoperating. gopherspace engineering. This is a problem completely separate from any sort of technical issues; it's a question of how gopherspace should be designed, what it feels like, who has control, how easy is it to move around, what kind of cooperative systems-building can we end up with. The questions here are those of groupware and computer-supported collaborative work, human factors and information systems design, resource discovery and current awareness tools, and so on. Even if we end up throwing away the protocol and all of the clients the question of systems design (for the Internet, I suppose, and not just gopherspace) is a big one. Thanks to all 300+ who voted for the new group. I'm going to ask some of the people who have built systems using gopher to speak up and say their piece about current projects and try to figure out where we go from here. Edward Vielmetti, vice president for research, Msen Inc. emv@Msen.com Msen Inc., 628 Brooks, Ann Arbor MI 48103 +1 313 998 4562 "my other computers are in Minneapolis, Lansing, Cambridge, Reston, ..."