Gemini: bringing the sense of wonder to the Internet again
May 19, 2022

The first time I have ever heard of the Internet was in 1993 while
still in high school. A school employee, still newly graduated from
Stanford, often mentioned the e-mail -- something that was at the
time mostly reserved to universities and libraries. The local
public library had many of those VT-100 "dumb" terminals for
catalogues and for access to various online resources. These
terminals were text-only, black screens with either green or orange
glowing ASCII letters. The library provided access to a number of
Gopher sites and WAIS resources either via Telnet or with the Lynx

I've finally gained access to the nascent World Wide Web in
November of 1995 when I heard about a new Internet cafe in town.
That place had 20 or so of those VT-100 terminals for free, and
eight "X terminals" with Unix GUI frontends (with Netscape
Navigator 2.0, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and RealPlayer!) at the price
of $3.50 an hour (or, $30 for a 10-hour prepaid punchcard).

The 1990s was an optimistic period in history, sandwiched between
the end of the Cold War and September 11. Tech was cool and people
generally saw it as a force for good. Geeks were yet to become a
major corporate power. Ironically, the conservatives were busy
pushing for censorship of the Internet via the proposed
Communications Decency Act. The cyberspace pushed back with the
ubiquitous "Blue Ribbon Campaign for Free Speech" (Zondervan, a
major Christian publisher, countered by spearheading a "Green
Ribbon Campaign for Responsible Speech"). Sometimes history can be
an irony, considering how the same conservatives decried "cancel
culture" and "Big Tech censorship" a quarter century later (of
course, now these conservatives are back at promoting censorship in
schools and libraries, though!).

Search engines were still primitive. People discovered the Internet
through directories such as Yahoo!, posts on BBS, Listserv and
Usenet, or through "links/bookmarks" pages on other people's web

There was no Google. There was no Wikipedia. There was no YouTube.
Amazon was just starting out as a small bookstore startup in
downtown Seattle. The Internet was kind of like a scavenger hunt.
Looking for information took time, and along with the journey of
finding answers, you made serendipitous discoveries of things you
never knew that existed.

And there were no Facebook or Twitter -- or for that matter,
Friendster,, Livejournal, or MySpace. But people
expressed themselves on personal web pages on GeoCities, Tripod,
and Angelfire, and they congregated on Internet Relay Chat (IRC),
Usenet, and many Listservs. Even though they were mostly
anonymous/pseudonymous unlike today's social media, we had many
offline social events. People with niche interests have finally
found their friends.

Things have changed so much since then. As majority of online
activities have moved to smartphones, wallgardened apps became more
common. In some African countries, "Internet" actually means
Facebook. Instead of users discovering, now algorithms and
artificial intelligence "discover" users and push "curated"
contents that only entrench and fortify their preconceived biases.
Search engines such as Google have become so potent that most
people only click the first link on the SERP and get everything
they want to know.

In the 1990s, the Internet was likened to a "global village" on the
"information superhighway." Now it's enmeshed with our "real life"
and increasingly more regulated both by the governments with
authoritarian tendencies and by a small number of Big Tech

"Small Internet" movement is kind of like the "slow food" movement
of the cyberspace. It's a return to the simpler times -- and also
restoring the freedom and that sense of wonder that the Generation
X experienced in their teen and early-20s.

Recently I have moved my personal website to In the past
I've used different platforms such as Tumblr, Blogger, Wordpress,
Google Sites, Github Pages, Weebly, and Wix. But this is hands down
the nirvana for bloggers. Pages can be added or edited using any
web browser, even on smartphones, without any need for an app. On
desktop, I can write a blog post using a plain text editor and
upload it from a Linux shell. And contents are accessible from
Gopher, Gemini, and World Wide Web protocols simultaneously.

If you haven't heard of Gemini and Gopher, you're missing out a

Gopher is the classic Internet older than the World Wide Web,
designed to serve up text files (other files such as images and
audio can also be downloaded, however). Gemini is a kind of an
improved version of Gopher, notable differences being Gemini pages
can attach images and hyperlinks, as well as to include some
formatting such as headlines (In Gopher, links to such objects are
only allowed in menu files, and all texts are unformatted).

I assume most people who are reading this are on the World Wide
Web, and my site is

If you have a Gemini browser, try this: gemini://

If you have a Gopher browser, gopher://
takes you to the same content as
or gemini://

And I encourage you to explore. Some good places to start:

### Gemini

=> Get a Gemini browser for
Android (download, install and come back to this page to access the
links below)
=> Experience
Gemini without installing an app (Web proxy)
=> gemini:// A Gemini search engine
=> gemini:// A good starting point
=> gemini:// It's Wikipedia for Gemini
(save $ on your mobile data plan!)
=> gemini:// "Geddit"
=> gemini:// News headlines
=> gemini:// The Guardian (unofficial mirror)
=> gemini:// Start your own Gemini/Gopher/Web site like

### Gopher

=> Get a Gopher browser for
Android (download, install and come back to this page to access the
links below)
Experience Gopher without installing an app (Web proxy)
=> gopher:// A Gopher portal page and search
=> gopher:// National
Weather Service (USA)
=> gopher:// Latest news
headlines from VOA, Democracy Now! and more