I wrote more than a week ago that Gemini is interesting, but probably not for me.
I was wrong.
After emerging myself for a week non-stop for 15 hours a day (yes, I have plenty of time right now), I came to love it.
Compared to my first article, I now use Lagrange instead of Geopard, and use Amfora only for double-checking my own design, if I changed anything.
I love the minimalistic nature of Geopard, which is a great fit for Gemini. But some UI bugs made me restart the app a couple of times, loosing all open tabs (many!) in the process. Bookmarking wasn’t possible due to a non-responsive UI, and session reloading upon restart doesn’t exist.
Lagrange felt too noisy in comparison, and I always prefer a native toolkit (GTK4/Gnome for Geopard vs. SDL for Lagrange). But proper session handling, better navigation (go to home, go up), and especially feed subscriptions made the switch easy. I even use the iOS and Android beta versions on mobile.
The Beauty of Gemtext
The simple nature of the Gemini protocol and especially Gemtext is enticing.
While link lines feel unsophisticated in the beginning, they have some distinct advantages. By using links sparsely, it helps with not overloading the text and fosters a different mindset while writing. It’s more about the content I create myself than linking to more information or explanations. The result feels more self-contained and avoids sending people down rabbit holes.
And while I enjoy writing Markdown a lot, writing Gemtext is even better. Reduced to the bare essentials, nothing gets in the way while maintaining great legibility.
And while creating my own capsule (Gemini’s preferred name for sites as everything is space-themed), I came to realize the obvious: what you see is what you get. There’s no intermediate step from the Gemtext content one writes to the content delivered to the reader. It’s exactly the same files.
Gemtext Declarative Structure
Because there’s no intermediary, I was able to separate a couple of German posts – which I’m still tool lazy and reluctant to translate (translating myself feels wrong) – by just copying those to the bottom of my Gemlog’s index page to not mix them between the English ones. While this is potentially possible with HTML as well, there’s always something more to do, which ultimately calls for automation.
Reliance on Clients in a Good Way
While styling Gemtext pages is limited, Clients can apply subtle styling themselves, which adds helpful information about links, for example. On-site and off-site links, even HTTP(S) and other types of links can be styled by the client, allowing users to make informed choices about where to go.
Apart from that, some clients just add a subtle color hue to a capsule, so that different capsules look the same, while looking just a little bit different at the same time.
Obviously clients could go overboard, but this is easily remedied by choosing a different client. User’s choice.
And because clients are empowered, non-existing navigation works on the Gemini verse, because they offer this functionality themselves. “Back” and “Forward” like with HTML, but also “Up” and “Root” (top-most page, likely Home).
Given Gemini’s minimalistic values, it also doesn’t feel right to create deep hierarchies.
After porting my Markdown-based blog posts over to Gemtext, I will keep using Gemini and posting on both my blog and gemlog, except image-, video-, or code-heavy pages, if I will have some.
To me Gemini feels like a personal space. Even though visual personal expression is limited, it’s cozy and non-performative. Technology choices created a slow-paced, intimate (web) experience. The content feels more personal and somewhat more precious.
It’s what I wish more places on the World Wide Web would be.
You can find my capsule at gemini://michaelnordmeyer.com/.