Is the ancient gophermap concept still a good idea?

One of the most visible differences between Gopher and WWW or Gemini is the concept of Gophermap. This concept is something that could be easily misunderstood. Because there is not any distinction between menu or structure pages and content on other platforms. It’s hard to get all nuisances of that division.

We could imagine that in the early years of the Internet it had been handy to extract the structure of site navigation. The main purpose of that must have been an efficient way of transferring that part of every site. It could have been also the only way to minimize things which are needed to be done on the client side. All that things are now only artificial limitations without any purpose in the modern fast and broadband networks.

But the idea of overall hierarchy of Gopher holes (sites) could be not so obsolete as it seems to be. After all, on every modern site, we invent a way to create a navigation structure. And after it, we build it into page content. If we would think about it, it doesn’t make sense to do so.

We have now also the whole movement of making that mixed structure and content pages more readable (so-called WCAG specifications). Because many of that self-made ideas, of menu and sites structure, aren’t well done. Sometimes there is problematic to navigate them for ordinary people.

So we are trying to invent the wheel again. We started from the Gophermap idea, then make the step into the world without any limitations in the area of site navigation, to realize that this simple element of every site takes too much effort to be well done and start to standardize it.

The second interesting thing about Gophermaps is that such a solution is back link safe. If we start to do some site we could have no idea how to organize it. We start to put some content and after some time we could want to change the structure of it. For example, we could want to organize content into a year-by-year archive. With Gophermap we can do it easily by creating the new one, without moving content, and by preserving all backlinks.

With Gophermaps we could also do any presentation of the most important current content by extracting some lead paragraph or content quotes to Gophermap. Again without moving base links of the core content. We could imagine it as some kind of editorial.

And hypothetically we can emulate Gophermap by special page (also with planning our site to be back link safe), but it would be nice to have such a standardized possibility, without any additional efforts, in every modern browser as it was in Gopher’s one.


@ Mon 18 Apr 2022 10:08:10 AM CEST