Elder Pages of Beelzebub

“A long, long time ago, when I can still remember how that network used to make me smile… I knew if I had the chance, that I could make that gopher dance, and maybe browse some menus for a while…”

This was once the main portion of the Negative Space Internet site. Back in those days, Internet sites were based off of FTP, and when you logged in to an FTP site you saw a list of directories, only one of which concerned you: the “pub” directory.

The “pub” directory was filled with text files and perhaps a few images to download, maybe some zip files of ancient word-processing documents, and pretty much no way of finding what you were looking for without knowing where it was to begin with.

Then came Gopher. Gopher was designed as an easier way to view FTP sites. It was extremely modal: you were provided a menu of items; those items were either another menu of items or a file to read or download. Search, if it was provided, was a completely separate module, usually WAIS.

Gopher was a much easier means of viewing FTP sites, and for that reason it spread like wildfire. Almost exactly like wildfire: it spread, and then it disappeared. It answered the question how to view highly modal sites such as FTP sites. It didn’t answer the question do we really want those sites to be modal? The web answered that question with a resounding no, we don’t. Thus, the web spread more like mud than like wildfire, and it’s still here.

I never took down my “pub” directory; I just made it an annex of my main web site. The files you’ll find in here are old; artifacts of a different time. One of those artifacts is that email addresses are everywhere. The only change I’m making to these files as I move them into my CMS is to automatically mangle or remove email addresses. We no longer find it expedient to make our email addresses public. I’m going to try to avoid completely removing email addresses, because I hate throwing out information.