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1. Introduction

TheWell gopher (WELLGopher) is still alive, though it's frozen sometime in the mid-1990s. Great for 'net archeologists. It includes this interesting commentary on the end of gopherspace:

The WELL's gopher was a going concern in the early '90s. At the time, we were pushing the envelope: this gopher was a freely available online space edited (or 'curated,' as we later said) by volunteers who were surfing the cutting edges of 'net proliferation.

It seems like old stuff now.

Though Jerod Pore kept the online zine section of the gopher happenin' long after, most of the gopher activity ceased in 1994 as html and http took hold. Why publish plain text when you can create actual pages, with graphics and some semblance of layout?

We talked a little about htmlizing these documents, but we were all distracted by other projects. Besides, even then some of the files here were beginning to seem dated (though some are still vital and edgy as I scan them today).

At the WELL's request, I've moved through and deleted outdated external links...there were many of these, because the other gophers we linked to have mostly gone away.

What's left is a quirky bit of history, a snapshot of a the genesis of today's Internet. I'm glad the WELL's left this stuff in place...nowhere else is there quite the same combination of early writings about digital culture, the same misture of community, technology, and edge culture.

-- Jon Lebkowsky, 6/6/99





And for those who are gopher challenged, http://gopher.well.sf.ca.us:70/1/.

2. Manifesto

When we started The Well's [Gopher server], I wanted to contribute, but in truth I didn't have a whole lot to say. I'd seen a lot of Gopher sites, and I knew that a Gopher site run by WER had to be different.

I was a long time reader of the WholeEarthReview, which was the follow-on to the Whole Earth Catalogs. (The Well, the WER, and the Whole Earth Catalogs were all run out the Whole Earth offices in Sausalito, CA. I visited there; the Well was a Sun server sitting in a closet.)

So as a starting point, I took from the WER's own [manifesto], and wrote a couple of Gopher items that I still think hold up pretty well:

I haven't heard many people use the term manifesto; it has a nice Berkeley, 60's ring to it. I think people refer more to MissionStatements nowadays. Boring. -- PaulHolbrook


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