Internet: One-to-Many Communication
The technologies on this page are all one-to-many communication methods that predate the Web. They've largely been eclipsed by their flashier cousin, but they still have their uses (except Gopher probably).
FTP stands for file transfer protocol. Your browser uses it whenever you download a large file (downloading software, for example). But if you want to upload a file — for example to your Web site — you'll probably want to get special FTP client software.
- Tile.net FTP search
- WS FTP by Ipswitch is one program I like (free evaluation)
Telnet sets up a direct connection with another server. Depending on what the sysadmin at the other end allows, you can use the remote computer just as you would if you were there in person.
The first library catalogs on the Internet were accessible via Telnet, and it's still good for a text-only interface.
You probably already have Telnet software on your computer. See what happens when you click on this link to the University of California libraries' Melvyl catalog via Telnet. Your browser should launch the Telnet application and make a connection. If it doesn't work, you can download a Telnet program at Download.com.
- HyTelnet on the World Wide Web. Or, try this re-creation of the hytelnet experience
Hytelnet was a service to help users find telnet sites.
Gopher was a text-based, hierarchical way of moving among files. In its day, it was a cool way to navigate around the Internet, digging for riches. (One site was even called Gopher Jewels.)
Gopher had the point-and-click nature of the Web, but it was all done with menus. So, it didn't have links embedded in the text (hypertext). It also didn't have inline graphics or multimedia. For these reasons, it was eclipsed by the Web. Very few gophers remain online.
In case you're wondering, the gopher protocol was developed at the University of Minnesota, home of the Golden Gophers. Even their gopher has been taken down.
Because the gopher:// protocol may not work on your browser — Internet Explorer withdrew support after version 5 — the gopher links below go through Web servers.
- Floodgap gopher - Maintains links to the few remaining gophers
- Sean McLennan [seanm.ca]
- Quux has a list of gopher resources by subject
- The gopher:// manifesto is campaigning for a revival of gopher.
- The Web may have won, but Gopher tunnels on, Ars Technica, Nov. 4, 2009
- Gopher: Underground Technology, Wired, April 12, 2004
- eMailman Finger - Finger an e-mail address and you can see if the person you're interested in is online (if their ISP allows fingering). If they have a .plan or .profile file, you can get other information they are willing to provide. This site has a WWW Finger gateway.