Hello, Gemini!

Full disclaimer: I’m not native speaker. Actually, if my memory is not tricking me, sans school and university I’ve never written anything longer in English. Lots of mistakes are expected.

Why I want to have my own online space?

Motivated by one of the greatest humanity pleasure – the sense of accomplishment, I wanted my space where I can share my little achievements with world (when I will finally manage to produce any) and in result, I’ve tried to start blog in web many times.

I’ve tried Wordpress but instantly wanted to make my own theme, after reading some HOWTOs decided that I need something simpler. Discovered static site generators (hi, Hugo). Managed to create some theme. Decided that I no longer like my initial design. Scraped it and started again. Started to dislike this one too. Rinse and repeat many, many times. Until feeling of complete burnout made me feeling that I don’t want any blog, ever. All of this without writing single article…

It’s one of my biggest problems: Constant pursuit of unachievable perfection at every single step, leading to me not making any steps.

Below I’ve put screenshots from resurrected last iteration of theme which I’ve made for Hugo. I’ve never written any article for it so I pasted famous “Lorem ipsum” and one code block. Look if you are interested. “Recent Posts” stopped working but I ain’t gonna fix it.

🖼 Post list
🖼 Post – top
🖼 Post – bottom
🖼 Responsive mobile post – top
🖼 Responsive mobile post – bottom
🖼 Extended responsive mobile menu

And this was not my first experience with self-inflicted burnout. I’ve tried making comics few times and writing books few times. This has lead me to develop serious procrastination habit, where even starting new personal project looks like unreachable goal.

At this point I’m even jealous of TikTokers making videos of themselves doing stupid and embarrassing things. They’ve decided to do something, and are committed to bring it to the very end.

So, I’ve decided to break this habit by the only one possible mean: actually making something. Small step at time. For some I’ve wanted to make cool game using Godot engine but it’s big task. Maybe in future, when starting personal project will seem less daunting. So I’ve decided to focus on smaller task at first – writing some personal blog seems doable, and this thing, hopefully, can become gamedev log in future.

But…

Why I’ve choosen Gemini?

I’m not the biggest fan of what modern web has become. I highly value usability while keeping simplicity. I cannot feel joy in using programs I perceive as overly complicated and bloated (I kinda sound like purist, but I actually am happy to accept some bloat if provided features are important for me). So, making blog which uses technology I’m consider one of the most bloated feature creep ever is no fun. Besides privacy and security matters for me. Even culture represented by most prominent part of the web is atrocious – all of that “dark patterns” were invented and accepted by people.

And I dislike fact that web is basically owned by big corporations. They exist for sole purpose of making money for it shareholders and will break any laws and any moral rules if the returns seems bigger then risks. Sadly they decided that they want web for themselves.

Until some time ago there were blogs and personal sites managed by sheer amount of people just wanting to share with world they hobbies and thoughts. Now there is Facebook, Twitter and other corporate owned services that use content posted there to track users and display personalized ads and sell gathered data to anybody interested.

Until some time ago there were chats and forums. Well, they are still there but most of traffic today is on discord and reddit. Again – owned by corporations.

And sites created by normal people, wanting to share their thought not to increase click count on ads hosted on their blogs, faded into oblivion. And this is the content I desire.

I’m big fan of webcomics (now most of them moved to WEBTOON). I yearn for some amateur novel posted in chapters on blog (I suppose, they are still standing strong but I’ve never been able to find them easily). I want to play indie games created by single devs (now usually available on itch or steam). I feel that art created by real people is “true” opposed to content created by corporations which just exist for generating profits and feel artificial and void in my opinion. But yet corporations managed to create spaces slowly but steady siphoning all content created by indie artists, starting to making rules what is allowed and what is not or simply recomending content they deemed “desirable”, basically slowly shaping everything into taste- and shape- less blob resembling corporate art. Independent web is dying and there is not much we can do to stop it because apart of small amount of whistleblowers no one cares.

This artificial, hopeless and void feeling is what I get from modern web. Moreover it has basically become parody of itself. Space existing only for ads. Let’s consider how visit on website can look:

  • You open website
  • Cookies consent popup appear. You either ignore any privacy concern and click “Accept All” or as more conscious person, expand it and allow only necessary cookies.
  • Website want to know your location. WTF guys! Come on! Disallow…
  • Website want to send you notifications. Ehh…
  • Now irritating autoplaying ad pop ups hiding whole content. Close button is perfectly hidden in some surprising location. You hunts for it few seconds.
  • You catch the glimpse of content, only to be interrupted by nagging “Join our newsletter to never miss any important content!”. Ok, cool its my first visit here. I’m here since quite good amount of time but still haven’t read single word from yours article. How the f*** can I decide if I want your newsletter to spam my precious mailbox or not? Dismiss.
  • You catch the second glimpse of content, only to see next ad load in place of first paragraph practically pushing whole article below visible space (monitors today are quite wide but not too high).
  • Scroll to finally see it.
  • Next newsletter popup appears out of the thin air! Now it states: “We see that you enjoy our content. Join our newsletter to never miss any!”. NO F*** WAY!
  • After closing irritating you can finally read some of this “important content”
  • It is clickbait. You simply loose your time, part of our sanity and energy that you should invest in things that matters. But site creator gained some views on hosted ads, so they strategy to write clickbait title with no real content but filled to brim with ads succeeded. Now they are writing next “article” in the same fashion.
  • And, there is scripting. Real elephant in the room.

    Scripting on websites is design mistake. It was used many times for making people’s lives worse, and bringing harm. Now, major browsers started arms race with wrongdoers, but it looks like keeping sinking boat, full of holes, on surface by pumping water out of it. Ability to run script on any computer on the World without its user consent and knowledge is monster humanity has yet to tame. At the same time reducing its power is no longer possible – huge backslash will kill any initiative to do so.

    Only possible way to make this experience more bearable is to block all ads and scripts by default. But quite a bit of websites stops working after blocking scripts. Where we as the humanity made mistake? Why presenting some article or recipe for delicious dinner requires Turing-complete system? Are books running some interpreter of InkScript or something to present you its content? If so, how they achieved it at the beginning of history?

    Also, blocking script by default is really demanding. In my country there are many different “quick online payment providers” and blocking scripts on their services can actually lead to loss of money when you are buying something online. Oh, and online shops stops working too! And finally, blocking scripts on your bank website totally breaks it. Longest time I’ve managed to bear with script blocked by default is 2 days.

    Web is unusable with scripts, and at the very same time is unusable without.

    People even decided that packing full web browser with web application act as valid, cross platform, native framework replacement (looking at you, Electron). It’s pretty insane if you think about it for longer.

    So, maybe I should make 2 different browser profiles, one for important task requiring scripting and one for rest? Or use 2 different browsers? This will make me feel safer but will it really improve this mess?

    I’ve learned about Gemini’s existence some time ago. Few times from different sources. Never checked what it is, so I’ve just known that something of this name exists and this is alternative protocol for serving content online.

    One day I decided to learn more about it. Firstly, I was reluctant. I had lots of deeply ingrained habits by growing up with the web. Text only blogs? Yuck! No way to style your site? Everything will look like crap…

    But what I will loose? Strive for simplicity and moment of feeling adventurous made me install plugin for Firefox which redirected all Gemini request through Gemini to HTTP proxy, and started reading. Aaaaaand, it was as visually pleasing experience as I anticipated – not at all. But I discovered “reader mode”, which after some fiddling with its settings, made me understand something: When website does not provide any stylesheet and is designed to work with any, than I can provide client-side style which I like and is actually readable for me. No longer questionable choices of colors or fonts that make content unreadable, it’s not a con. But I’m not sure if I would call it pro. I could live with styling, and I could live without.

    Next I learned about gopher and find out that space called “smolnet” is actually quite big and has long history. There is actually more content that I need.

    My initial impression was totally wrong. Finding world beside web opened my eyes and I started thinking, if I want to be part of this mess the web has become, or I want to move to much simpler (I highly value that trait) and more people-oriented alternative?

    I think, I will no longer find joy in publishing blog on the web.

    And there is something quite important considering my flaws: Without CSS, without control over how this post will be displayed number of things that can subconsciously trigger my unhealthy perfectionism is drastically reduced. This and trying not to polish every single sentence until complete burnout makes publishing something possible for me.

    Conclusion

    So, I’m here.

    I probably will not publish regularly. I’m not that of interesting person to have something worth writing every day, or week. But I will try to not abandon this capsule in near future.

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    Disclaimer

    This is only a mirror of my Gemini capsule available here:

    gemini://aelpsire.info