Gritty's Blog


On the #gemini protocol there is one really prominent content aggregator (think RSS feed) that's been active over the several years of the life of Gemini: Antenna.

Antenna basically works this way: a person writes a gemlog (a blog on Gemini), and then updates an index page that's a list of links to the logs with the dates and titles. A user then submits the that index page to Antenna and it ingests it into a database and displays everyone's entries in chronological order. So instead of having an aggregator poll a list of sites periodically, a user will submit their list. In doing so, it puts the onus on the user to aggregate their content, and ensures that Antenna isn't polling dead gemlogs for months on end.

Well, for a few days I noticed (as well as the community), that Antenna was down. There was a post about it on the new BBS (bulletin board system), and it was mentioned that someone could theoretically create another Antenna. I don't know why I wanted to do this for the community, but I suddenly had to do it.

Now, I have two small kids at home so personal time is the most premium of commodities, and that free time is usually spent relaxing because I'm too tired to do anything else, but sometimes I get this idea in my head and I have to do it. So, I set out making my own version of Antenna after someone pointed me to the code repo.

Much to my chagrin, the instructions were way out of date from the actual code, but luckily it was written in Python and it gave me an opportunity to brush back up on my Python skills. After much digging around and seeing how it works, I finally got my version of Antenna up and running...and if I remember correctly it was about two evenings of trying to get things working.

I posted up on the BBS that I got it working and for folks to try it out. The creator of Gemini, Solderpunk, replied and asked if I would try and theme it so eventually I came up with Deep Space Network Antenna, named after the NASA program. I also changed the allowable posts to be non-technical. The problem with the last part was that most people only had 1 index page for all their gemlogs and in order to not submit technical gemlogs alongside non-technical ones, you'd have to have two. I went to BBS to get opinions on this and there were of course some on both sides, but in general, I decided to leave it up to the capsule owner (gemlog writer) to do this separation.

For a while it was pretty dead on DSN Antenna, but now some folks have started posting to it, and Skyjake (the creator of the best Gemini browser, LaGrange, and gemini's first BBS) added it to Cosmos, his super aggregator, which is an aggregator of aggregators, designed to catch replies between gemlog posts. So it seems fairly official now, and I'm happy about that.

If you have a Gemini browser, you can check it out here: gemini://

I've been spending a lot of time on the #gemini protocol this past year, and I'm writing this post on my normal blog so that the search engine crawlers index this page for those that may be interested in it. While I know there are other introductory pages – which I'll link here as well – I feel like this is my contribution on getting the message out. If you happen to be on my gopher:// mirror of this site, just simply drop in https:// instead on a normal browser.

What is the Gemini Protocol?

Gemini FAQ on Circumlunar

Why use Gemini?

A lot of folks are disenfranchised with how the web is today. This is a mix of new and old internet users alike. As you can imagine, the old-heads that saw the internet blossom and loved the promise of a great new world, are now disenfranchised and looking to escape back to what the internet used to be: controlled by individuals, not by corporations greedily collecting your data so they can make money off of you. There's also a surprising group of younger internet citizens that grew up with a cellphone in their hand and internet all around them. They, too, it seems, see the insidious side of the internet and wish to connect with people, not endless status updates.

The second group, which also intersects with the first, are the people who like the cleanliness of text-only presentation. These are the folks that love command line and using text files. They probably use a todo.txt as well.

In a world of flashy websites, content can easily be lacking and overlooked. In the world of Gopher and Gemini, however, content is king because if you have no content there's really nothing to post.

Another group are the ones that love to blog, but they, too, felt lost at sea in the glut of the internet. Since gemini and gopher are much smaller, the interactions are admittedly less, but they are more meaningful because they are real people who stopped by to read your 5000 word #gemlog (gemini's version of a blog), and it struck a chord with them. If they take the time to fire up their email program to write you a response, you can guarantee it means a bit more than the comment section on most internet blogs.

Another reason people join is the clear lack of algorithms feeding you content. Almost everything in Gemini is pull versus push. What this means is that you have to find content instead of it being firehosed to your screen. And why would you want this? It slows you down, and it makes you the curator of your own reading lists. Part of the fun of the old internet, they say, was that you had to DIG to find content, and that the digging was part of best things of the internet then, because when you found a gem or goldmine, it meant that much more to you. That's not to say there aren't any push capabilities; there are at least 4 search engines that I know about, and several content aggregators (think #RSS feeds), and a social microblog site called Station. While these are technically centralizing parts of Gemini (and there have been many discussions about this on Gemini, both pro and con), I think they provide a modicum of convenience while sidestepping most of the bad parts of the highly centralized web.

Generally though, Gemini is just not what most people are looking for, and that's okay. It's draw, for me, is the fact that it's a small (but far from exclusive) community of people, and not big corporations and algorithms.

What can I do on Gemini?

Gemlogs (Gemini Blogs)

A lot of people on Gemini write long-form #gemlogs, which are just Gemini versions of Blogs. Gemini, however, is NOT just a blogosphere on a lesser-known internet protocol, but it does make up a lot of the content on there. When I was first joining Gemini I wasn't much of a writer, but after a while I felt encouraged to write down a few thoughts here and there. People use their gemlogs for a whole host of things that they would use a blog. such as: * Journaling thoughts, talking about your day, etc. * Note taking – this is pretty popular for those people that need a technical reference for themselves and others while the figure out a system or coding, etc.

You can subscribe to gemlogs if they are in the proper gemlog format or if the owner put the logs into an Atom feed

gemlog format for subscribing

Tinylog (microblog)

Gemini also has a version of microblogging called #tinylogs. These are shorter-form posts that don't warrant a full-fledged post. Think Twitter or Mastodon, but stripped waaayyy down to the basics. If you have your own site (or capsule as they are called in Gemini), you can start your own in a single text file, or there's a site called Station that is the closest thing Gemini has to a social network. Station is a microblog-style site that lets you post tinylogs and to like, comment, and subscribe to other people's tinylogs. Gemini is so small that the front page feed only gets a few updates a day and is easily digestable.

If you make your own tinylog on your website, there's a way you can subscribe to other tinylogs and view them as a timeline (otherwise you have to constantly check the tinylogs of others that you like). The two programs are called #gtl and #lace.

Tinylog format / RFC Tinlylog tools


SpellBinding My favorite all-time game on Gemini is #Spellbinding. It's a word game where you are given seven letters in a circle with one letter in the middle, and you must make as many words as possible using the center letter. words must be 4+ letters.

you'll need a Gemini browser to access the link below: gemini://

Wordo A wordle clone for Gemini gemini://

There are also some MUDs and other things I haven't explored yet.

Getting Started

If you're interested in getting started, here's my quickstart:

Get a browser

Lagrange. Just use this, it's the best one out there for mobile and desktop Lagrange Gemini Browser

Find some content

Point your browser to: * Antenna – content aggregator: gemini:// * Cosmos – content super aggregator: gemini:// * – search engine: gemini://

Setup a capsule SmolPub

Other Getting Started Guides

Awesome Gemini – Links Gemini Quickstart