Roadmap96: MAP18 - Gopher (Part One)
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MAP18: GOPHER (PART ONE)
"I have found that a great part of the
information I have was acquired by looking for something and finding
something else on the way."
-- Franklin P. Adams
When I was in elementary school, I was a rather "spirited" child. I remember constantly asking my teachers why I had to learn long division when I could just as easily use a calculator to come up with the answer.
Needless to say, my parents heard from my teachers ... often.
What does this story have to do with today's lesson? Well, I am proud to announce that we have just finished learning the "long division" of the Internet: FTP. Now we are going to start using the "calculator" of the Internet: a client/server package called "Gopher". (If you have Level One connectivity, I will show you in MAP22 how to access Gopher using nothing but e-mail!!)
Gopher was developed at the University of Minnesota. It is a menu-driven application that allows you to hop around the globe looking for information. Gopher's interconnected menus allow you to "burrow" deeper and deeper until you find the information that you are looking for.
Imagine that I decide to gather together all of the information that I can find about power line-chomping squirrels and I put that information into a menu-driven library. Also imagine that someone else who is interested in the uses of yak fur creates a menu-driven yak fur library. If these two menu-driven libraries are interconnected, anyone who has access to my squirrel library will also have access to the yak fur library (and vice versa).
Now imagine that THOUSANDS of these specialized libraries were interconnected. That is what Gopher does, and all of these interconnected Gopher libraries make up what is called "Gopherspace."
Think of Gopherspace as being a huge stadium filled with information on a myriad of different topics. If you have ever been to a major sporting event, you will remember that your ticket to that event told you which gate you had to pass through to enter the stadium. Once you entered the stadium, however, you were free to roam around, buy a hot dog, and make fun of the opponent's fans. You had access to EVERYTHING in that stadium, regardless of which gate you entered through.
Gopherspace is set up the same way. Your "gate" is the client that you use to enter Gopherspace. Once you are in, however, you are free to roam around and take advantage of everything that is inside the "stadium".
Why is Gopher so special? Well, unlike Archie which just tells you where the information that you want can be found, Gopher actually goes out, GETS the information that you want, and puts the information on your computer screen! (You could even say that Gopher will actually "go fer" the information that you want.)
A TOUR OF GOPHERSPACE
I'll explain how you can access Gopher and use Gopher's commands in MAP19. In this lesson, I want to take you on a little tour of "Gopherspace" and show you around. :)
We are going to start our tour at GOPHER.SQUIRREL.COM -- a gopher site that doesn't really exist, but we're going to pretend that it does. Remember, it does not matter where you start. As long as you are in Gopherspace, you have access to the same information that everyone else has.
When you access your Gopher client, you will start out in your client's "root menu." Each root menu is different, but they all have the same basic stuff.
I am going to be using a UNIX Gopher client for today's tour. As I said earlier, we'll talk a little more about the commands tomorrow, but for now I want you to remember two things:
- Your site's root menu will be different from my example; and
- In a UNIX Gopher client menu, the symbols at the end of each menu item tell you what that menu item is. The following guide will help you decipher the symbols:
/ gateways to other menu options . text, graphic, or program files (some new UNIX Gopher servers simply drop the ".") <?> requests you can make to a database for information <CSO> phonebook requests you can make to a database for information
Also, in a UNIX Gopher client the arrow ("-->") selects which menu item you want to enter. You move the "-->" up and down by using the up and down arrows, and you select the menu item by using the ENTER or RETURN key (or by using the right arrow key on your keyboard).
With that said, let's begin the tour! Our tour starts on the GOPHER.SQUIRREL.COM root menu:
SQUIRREL.COM Gopher Server --> 1. Information about the Squirrel Gopher Server. 2. What's new in the Squirrel Gopher as of May 29, 1996. 3. Squirrel Resources, Services and Information/ 4. Administrative Resources, Services and Information/ 5. Network Resources, Services and Information/ 6. Squirrel Directory <CSO> 7. Potpourri, Miscellaneous Topics/ 8. Local Squirrel LISTSERV Archives/ 9. Other Gopher and Information Servers/
I move the "-->" up and down by using the up and down arrows. When I finally find a menu item that I want to select, I put the "-->" next to that menu item and press the ENTER or RETURN key.
Since the first menu item -- "Information about the Squirrel Gopher Server" -- is a file (it has a "." at the end of it), let's see if we can get into it!
I move the cursor up to "Information about the Squirrel Gopher Server," press the ENTER or RETURN key, and the following appears on my screen:
WELCOME TO THE SQUIRREL.COM GOPHER SERVER The SQUIRREL.COM gopher was created by Patrick "P-Crispy-One" Crispen to serve as a repository for more information about squirrels than anyone could ever possibly want to know. While you are here, please check out our special Sally Struthers menu which contains ...
COOL! Unlike FTP, Gopher allows us to read files before we GET them! That's going to save us a whole bunch of time! :)
Let's go back to the root menu and start a REAL journey. I'm going to take you to a site we visited in a previous lesson -- the InterNIC!
So I go back to the root menu:
SQUIRREL.COM Gopher Server 1. Information about the Squirrel Gopher Server. 2. What's new in the Squirrel Gopher as of May 29, 1996. 3. Squirrel Resources, Services and Information/ 4. Administrative Resources, Services and Information/ 5. Network Resources, Services and Information/ 6. Squirrel Directory <CSO> 7. Potpourri, Miscellaneous Topics/ 8. Local Squirrel LISTSERV Archives/ --> 9. Other Gopher and Information Servers/
I want to visit other Gopher sites around the world, so I use the down arrow to move the cursor down to "Other Gopher and Information Servers," press the ENTER key, and watch as the following appears on my screen:
Other Gopher and Information Servers 1. All the Gopher Servers in the World/ 2. Search All the Gopher Servers in the World <?> 3. Search titles in Gopherspace using veronica/ 4. Africa/ 5. Asia/ 6. Europe/ 7. International Organizations/ 8. Middle East/ --> 9. North America/ 10. Pacific/ 11. Russia/ ... %< snip snip snip %< ...
WOW! This is COOL!
This menu allows me to access Gophers all over the world! I'm going to have to remember this.
Let's keep today's tour close to (my) home. I move the cursor down to "North America," hit the ENTER key, and the following appears on my screen:
North America 1. Canada/ 2. Costa Rica/ 3. Cuba/ 4. Mexico/ 5. Nicaragua/ 6. Puerto Rico/ --> 7. USA/
Well, that certainly narrowed things down a little :)
Let's keep going. I move the cursor down to the "USA" menu, press the ENTER key, and a new menu appears on my screen:
USA --> 1. All/ 2. General/ 3. alabama/ 4. alaska/ 5. arizona/ ... %< snip snip snip %< ... 50. washington DC/ 51. west virginia/ 52. wisconsin/ 53. wyoming/
Uhh ... 53 entries? Yep -- one for each of the 50 states, one for Washington, D.C., one for "All," and one for "General".
I feel like an adventure (and, to be completely honest, I have absolutely no idea what state the InterNIC is in!). I move the cursor up to the "All" menu, press the ENTER key, prop my feet up, and wait for the following new menu to appear on my screen:
All 1. The Online World resources handbook (de Presno)/ 2. 1848 Information & Resources/ 3. 187resist: Immigrant Rights in California/ 4. 1994 California Voter Information/ 5. 3k Associates Gopher Server/ 6. AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science)/ ... %< snip snip snip %< ... 674. InterLink Hawaii Gopher/ --> 675. InterNIC: Internet Network Information Center/ 676. InterNetwork Services - A MN Access Provider/ ... %< snip snip snip %< ... 1838. protein data bank site (Brookhaven)/ 1839. rec.aviation gopher/ 1840. theporch gopher/
WHOA! The InterNIC!!! We've been there!
Let's drop in and see if they missed me. I move the cursor to "InterNIC," press the ENTER key, and the following menu appears on my screen:
InterNIC: Internet Network Information Center --> 1. Information about the InterNIC 2. InterNIC Registration Services (NSI)/ 3. InterNIC Directory and Database Services (AT&T)/
Let's take a look at that first file, "Information about the InterNIC." I move the cursor to that first entry, press the ENTER key, and the following appears on my screen:
About the InterNIC In January of 1993 the InterNIC was established as a collaborative project between AT&T, General Atomics and Network Solutions, Inc. and supported by three five-year cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation. AT&T was to manage the InterNIC Directory and Database Services project; NSI ... %< snip snip snip ...
Does this look familiar? This is the "roadmap.faq" file that we downloaded in MAP14! We just repeated last week's example, only this time:
- We did not have to use any weird commands (all we used was the up and down arrows, and the ENTER key).
- We were able to see a directory of every menu we passed through, and we never had to type "DIR".
- We were able to read the "roadmap.faq" file without having to GET the file, and without having to leave the Gopher program.
Now, to be completely honest, this demonstration was staged. Not every FTP file is available through Gopher (but SOME are). I think you will agree, however, that Gopher is a heck of a lot easier to follow than FTP! :P <-- That is a smiley with its tongue sticking out.
Are you ready to learn how to do all of this yourself? Good! In our next lesson, we'll talk about the Gopher commands that will help you travel through Gopherspace with ease. :)
Divide 14,682 by 269 ... by hand (I'm kidding). BTW, I know the answer, so DON'T MAIL IT TO ME! :)
Originally written by Patrick Douglas Crispen