Gopher materials

"Gopher" was the first tool that usefully organized the mass of stuff rapidly becoming available on the Internet for serious use. (Why "gopher"?) It appeared in early 1992 and took over the world in a matter of weeks; it began to fade in late 1993 when Mosaic made the World-Wide Web friendly (see below), but there is such a large established base of material available that it remains a powerful and useful tool; and from within WWW servers, you can always go to gopher resources (though not usually the other way around). (1996 will probably be the last year in which gopher is a serious tool that you need encounter very often.)

Gopher gives you menus and is easy to navigate -- cursor down through menu, hit Carriage Return to select something, cursor-left to back out of it (or "u" if it's a document -- there are on-screen prompts). If you say "gopher" at a system prompt at Penn you will either get a menu designed for your system or else the general Penn menu. Whichever you have, you can navigate, by tiptoeing through menus, to other servers. Try these two: this gopher has all the various resources mustered by the U. of Pennsylvania English Department, including substantial student-advising materials, text archives, and links to other information sources. this is the gopher of the Center for Computer Analysis of Texts, founded by Robert Kraft and Jack Abercrombie in the early 1980s and is strong in materials in classical and biblical studies; look especially at the textual archives and electronic publications.

The great advantage of gopher just now is that it presents text simply and is simple to maintain. If you have a plain-ASCII text, you have a gopher text. Learning to create and maintain a gopher server is quite easy; but if you are learning one new skill, it should probably be making pages for the WWW.

Some things in gopher-space: job ads from the Chronicle for Higher Education, electronic journals, other campus gophers (which usually have a directory that includes names, addresses, and e-mail addresses -- if you know somebody's institution, going to their gopher to look for a directory is the best, but not perfect, way of finding out their e-address), archives of texts (many of them easily searchable).

How to find them rapidly: Look on whatever gopher menu you use for an entry called "veronica". Click here and you may enter a keyword to use in searching gopherspace menus. (You'll get a dizzying variety of choices of places to do your search: I don't see that it makes much difference which you choose, but sometimes one server is balky, so you quit that and try another.) Such searches have their limits, but with a very little practice you can make good use of them.

How to bring home what the gopher finds: while reading the file you are interested in, type "m" for "mail", supply your own e-mail address, and when you get back to your mail, the full text of the file will be there waiting for you.

Go on for the World-Wide Web or go back to the start of this guide to new tools for teaching.