Life without http://

One of the hipsters at silverorange emailed me about a year ago: he wondered if I could configure this server to respond to requests for as well as for, as his habit was to leave off the www. I was happy to oblige, and this alternative mechanism has been in place ever since.

Not being a hipster myself (but trying hard every day), I am embarassed to admit that not only do I continue to call up this website using the www, but I almost always type the URL as, even though no browser I know of has actually required this for as long as anyone can remember.

Back at the dawn of time, you couldn’t assume the http:// because you might just as well be connecting to a Gopher server with your browser, which required gopher://. My fingers got trained under that regime, and I’ve not yet been unable to untrain them.

I’ve probably wasted years of my life typing http://, and dented my carpal tunnels an extra 23% while I was at it.

Here’s a pointer to a gopher server (at Trent University) — if you can click through, then your browser still supports Gopher, which is pretty amazing, as it isn’t in common use, and hasn’t been for many years.

Funny to think that back at Access 1994 in St. John’s we were all busy debating whether Gopher or the World Wide Web would emerge as the dominant medium. I think one of the sessions at the conference was a demo of a 3D Gopher Server. Those were the days.


art's picture
art on July 4, 2003 - 14:42 Permalink

At one point, Hyper-G was also going to be the next generation of the web. A decade later and the web is still rooted in a lot of its original plumbing. I wonder if there

Alan's picture
Alan on July 4, 2003 - 15:03 Permalink

That is the interesting thing about “plumbing” systems — the first to the post at the early stages always defines what follows. The Y2K “scare” was based on a bunch of guys in the late 40’s deciding to use 2 digits for the year as there was no way in their minds that the system would still be in place over 50 years later.

Isaac's picture
Isaac on July 4, 2003 - 16:34 Permalink

You never did update the government

Lou Quillio's picture
Lou Quillio on July 4, 2003 - 17:05 Permalink

MSIE6/Win can’t resolve the TrentU gopher URL. Opera7/Win requires that gopher URLs be requested through a proxy server (huh?). Firebird/Win browses straight through to the directory without complaint.

The only document on the TrentU server reads as follows:

About Trent’s Gopher Service

Trent University is now using the Web.

Please visit us at;

Our Gopher Service is no longer being maintained
and will be phased out in the near future.

Computing Services Dept.
July 2000


Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on July 4, 2003 - 19:16 Permalink

Gopher was easier for content managers — just dump files in a directory structure — but it didn’t have the sizzle that Mosaic had. Maybe it was too easy!