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Personal Feeds (response to Solderpunk)


This posts discusses CAPCOM and Spacewalk. If you don't know what those are, please check out the following links before continuing.



The original post

Solderpunk: "Gemini aggregation, curation, etc"

Solderpunk has written a great post (as usual), about the increasing amount of content on Gemini. You should definitely read it, and some of the posts he links to at the beginning. I'm going to look at some specific parts however.

> I setup CAPCOM as a "public aggregator of all the things" early on in the "fragile seedling" phase of Gemini's life, and Spacewalk was setup at roughly the same time. Both of these are still functioning pretty well, and I still check CAPCOM daily. It's the centre of my personal Gemini experience. I also check Spacewalk a few times a week, and stick my head in at a few other places too, like gemlog.blue. For small spaces, services like CAPCOM and Spacewalk (and their Gopher equivalent, Bongusta), work extremely well. They are vitally important, in fact, for bootstrapping new spaces.

Agreed, I have much the same workflow. CAPCOM is actually my homepage on Amfora, so my Gemini reading tends to start with launching Amfora and clicking Ctrl-H right away. That tends to the be the limit of my exploration, I haven't poked my head in other places as much as I'd like to. I should check Spacewalk more for sure, and gemlog.blue. It was only a few days ago that I realized gemlog.blue is now full of interesting content! I never knew, because there aren't any Atom feeds on there for CAPCOM to display.


acdw on gemlog.blue - one of the most prolific posters on there

sloum, creator of gemlog.blue and Spacewalk

Sloum if you're reading this, it'd be great for gemlog.blue to have Atom feeds. But of course that doesn't really address the overall problem Solderpunk and others have brought up. gemlog.blue posts will just be more content on the ever-growing CAPCOM page, which now aggregates 43 (!) feeds.

> as Geminispace grows, and more and more feeds are added, these kind of public firehoses are going to become less and less useful.

> Fortunately, both CAPCOM and Spacewalk aren't *just* public firehose feeds - they are software tools you can run yourself, to make your own personal aggregators. You can share your aggregated results with the public, or you could lock them away behind a client certificate so nobody but you knows which Gemini content you like to read. I hope this approach becomes increasingly common as Geminispace grows. I could be wrong, but I don't think many folk are doing this yet.

Yes, thank goodness! It's great that they're open software tools, as almost all of the Gemini ecosystem seems to be. I also haven't seen anyone running their own yet, but gemlog.blue is a promising candidate. On their homepage they say they're planning on setting up a Spacewalk feed, just for their users. I think that's a great idea, and I hope other hosting places take up the idea too, like breadpunk.club and tanelorn.city.

Another solution

Both CAPCOM and Spacewalk output to a file, which means that they usually require hosting a gemini server so you can view that file. I think this contributes somewhat to their lack of adoption, because it involves setting up one of those aggregators, then a gemini server, then remembering to update it regularly or writing a cron job, etc - it becomes a lot, even for Gemini's often tech-savvy audience. The advantage is that you can have a public feed you can share with the world, but even that would then require a VPS or personal server. Obviously, sometimes this is desirable, like with gemlog.blue as I wrote about above, but I think that it'd be nice for users to have an easier way. I think it will become all the more necessary in the coming months and years, as Solderpunk says.

> [having a global CAPCOM instance] probably still has many months of life left in it, but I'm not convinced it has many *years* of life left (unless growth of the space slows right down and it never gets much bigger than it is now - which very well may happen).

So, what is this easier solution? I think it's client-based aggregators -- where the aggregation is built into an existing Gemini client. This feature has actually been on Amfora's roadmap since the first commit, ~2 months ago, but Solderpunk's post has motivated me to bring this feature up in my task list. The workflow would have to involve several things:

A dynamically constructed (but possibly cached) feed viewer page, similar to the way CAPCOM and Spacewalk look

Automatic detection of feed files - the user will be prompted to add the feed if they visit an atom.xml file, for example

Some shortcut or button to add feeds by URL at any time

Some hard-coded interval for when the feed view is regenerated: at browser start only, on hard-reload of the feed viewer, on every X load of the feed viewer, every X minutes in a separate thread, etc

A way to edit the feed list and remove feeds

Crucially, I'd like to support not just Atom and RSS feeds, but also subscribing to page changes, which is how Spacewalk works. That way users could stay subscribed to updates on sites like gemlog.blue, or the homepage of their friends. Anytime the hash of the page changed, it would show up the same way a "new post" would. There could be a "Track Page" shortcut to acheive this.

To my knowledge, Amfora would be the first & only client to implement this, but it shouldn't stay that way! I hope other client authors (and users) like this idea, and will implement it as well. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, by email, or as a response post. 👋🏼

EDIT 2020-11-16:

You can keep track of my work on this in Amfora here:

Issue 61

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