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2019-06-23 - Against Gemini Tabs

Solderpunk continues his exploration of "Project Gemini" [1], and it is interesting to see that someone has already created a server, and he's even created a client for this tentative protocol.

Project Gemini

One thing that he says though, does rather undo the joy which I should be feeling about this exciting experiment - the maps proposal is ungoodful.

Essentially, solderpunk proposes that a link in a map would consist of:-


This proposal should, I feel, be rejected for two reasons:-

1. Utility

Using a control character as a delimiter is just poor design. It is not simply that some people prefer tabs over spaces, some editors simply will not insert a <tab> at all, and require changes to arcane config files and/or patching of the editor to do so.

If the point of the exercise is to increase utility and decrease "onboarding" friction, then requiring the use of a pretty obscure control character is surely accomplishing neither.

2. Clarity

Without looking, which of these lines meets solderpunk's `spec`:-

     Google  http://google.com
     Bing    http://example.com


Trick question! Neither of them do!

Going back to the ideas which were talked about back when this was just gedankenexperiment, the purpose of a new protocol should be simplicity and clarity. With all respect to solderpunk's enthusiasm, this proposal achieves neither. It is just not possible to look at the text as written and identify issues - it requires further, deeper knowledge, knowledge which cannot just be presumed.


I would suggest a linking scheme similar to that used by geomyidae, i.e.:-


A line, starting with a [ ending with ]<CR><LF> containing two elements separated by a pipe. Errors can be parsed by sight, or by a code editor.

Simple. Clear. Effective.


I also have some concerns about the use of header logic in solderpunks proposal - I don't see the need, and I think that path just leads straight back down to markdown and the modern web. Text should be text, content should be content, content should be text.

Presentation of headers should be a matter only in the control of the creator. They should never be presented by a client in a format other than that so chosen.

I don't want to sound like someone who's just criticising for the sake of criticism, I really am excited by all these developments. I just worry that in a desire to reflect gopher and the modern web, decisions are being made which take the worst of all worlds, with the best of intentions.

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