Life inside a machine


You're viewing a Gemini article on the web

It's much better to view it on Gemini!

I've spent the last few days traipsing back and forth through Gemspace and Gopherspace looking at what's available. It's a pretty mixed bag, as is to be expected. Many people started their phlog or gemlog then abandoned it quickly, many more kept theirs running for years and I'm just visiting a monument to that moment in time. It's in equal parts fascinating and saddening, partly because I arrived too late and partly because these things were written (presumably) with no other goal than to share something. This can be contrasted with the modern WWW, on which even simple blogs are often laden with trackers and ads as a way to monetize content.

On this journey, though, I've come across something that's probably familiar to most of you. However, it's not so familiar to me and I've found it delightful.

That thing is zines.

I've heard about zines in the past, of course. Both as internet circulars and as physical paper collections of stories, essays and art. I guess I just never sought them out myself as I was never really involved with underground communities nor was I particularly fascinated by the idea of a curated list of links. After all, I always had RSS.

But in a space such as the smallweb, where content discovery is less obvious than on the WWW, a curated zine is a joy. Passionate people take time to write up essays and submit content to help other smallweb users to discover new places to go. I'm not going to sing their praises too much as I'm sure anyone who's currently reading this is probably much better versed in this stuff than myself already.

The smallweb is a zine memorial

Doing a search on Gopher, in particular, is going to yield a huge number of results for "zines". It contains archives of lots and lots of old digital zines and Usenet threads about zines. Browsing back through these is bittersweet. I came across a Star Trek zine that I would have absolutely treasured as a kid. But now, the community is long since gone and the zine is nothing more than an archived collection of text files.

Many links are simply dead, and some don't even seem to be mirrored on the smallweb or the WWW. I wonder just how much we've lost as people abandoned their servers, left their jobs, or died. It's a crushing loss, but at the same time human thought is the one thing that will always be in abundance as long as we exist.

We have the ability to revive existing publications in spirit, or start completely new ones. It's never been easier than it is right now to publish content online and share it with the world. We have Gemini, Gopher, HTTP, NNTP, and many other means of creating and distributing, and it's nice to see that this sentiment is alive and well here on Gemspace.

Some zines I'm aware of


A zine all about the smallweb, with interesting articles and links.


Circumlunar Transmissions





I'm always interested to find more of this kind of thing. If you know of other zine-like content, please send me an email.

Email me

Bis bald