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Re: NSF and the Birth of the Internet
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2008 18:20:02 -0400



Begin forwarded message:

From: Abe Singer <abe () oyvay nu>
Date: August 19, 2008 4:33:21 PM EDT
To: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Subject: Re: [IP] Re:      NSF and the Birth of the Internet

For IP if you wish.

In my experience, licensing was not a big contributor to gopher's
demise.

In the early part of the 1990s I worked at the UCSD library, and set up
some of the first gopher servers and web servers on the campus.

Licensing never came up as an issue over our whether or not we continued
to use gopher.

Our librarians switched from gopher to web because the web had better
features.  The web offered not just graphics, but text formatting/layout
capabilities that gave the librarians a better opportunity to organize
information in a manner appropriate to the subject.

Gopher also suffered from a severe lack of documentation which hampered
its usability. To wit, I started on a reference manual (by painstakingly
testing each option) for gopher which I never finished, but years later
found that people (at other Universities even) were still using my
document due to lack of other resoures.

-- Abe

Begin forwarded message:

From: Robert Alberti <alberti () sanction net>
Date: August 19, 2008 9:34:17 AM EDT
Subject: Re: [IP] Re:      NSF and the Birth of the Internet

Gopher introduced (and suffered for so doing) the concept of software
licensing to the Internet. Nowadays the Internet is SO commercialized
that it can be hard to remember that in 1993 most domain names ended
in .EDU or .MIL. Domain names that ended in .COM were considered crass.
Commercial use of the Internet was anathema to many, who insisted that
since it was developed with public resources it should always be free
and open. However, supporting Gopher was quickly consuming all of the
resources of the tiny University of Minnesota department to which I and
my colleagues belonged. It was our (undoubtedly clumsily handled)
suggestion that Gopher software be commercially licensed that caused
many of its users to abandon Gopher for the Web, which was in any case
growing quickly in popularity.




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