HOWTO: Make a weblog a gopherlog

For April Fools Day I redirected http://george.hotelling.net/ to gopher://george.hotelling.net/. It’s the sort of joke that doesn’t have a punch line… I think they’re called “unfunny.” I thought I was being pretty original until I found out Matt Haughey did it 4 years ago for MetaFilter on Internet Jackass Day, and apparently someone other than me invented the Gopher protocol, like 10 years ago!

Still, if you’re looking to turn your weblog into a gopherlog (or rlog for short) I will pull back the curtains and show you how I set up my gopher server. It’s not the best way (it’s actually quite an ugly hack), but I only had a few hours to set things up.

First, you need to get and install PyGopherd. It’s fairly simple, just download it and follow the instructions in the manual to install it, then configure a directory for it to serve. I told it to serve ~/public_html/gopher/ but any directory will do.

Then, download feedparser, html2text and this script of my own design to create text files from an RSS feed. Set the output directory to the same one that your gopher server is using, set the RSS feed to your RSS feed and you’re more or less done. For extra fun, put the script in a cron job so that it will keep updating with new items. If you do that, you’ll also need to rm the old files (which really should be done in my script, but see the part above about this being a hack that needed to work in a couple hours).

There’s plenty of room for improvement. For instance you could write a Python script for PyGopherd to parse the RSS feeds, which would cut down on all sorts of problems and be useful to literally tens of people. Still, if you want to turn dial on the old wayback machine you could do worse than to turn your weblog into a gopherlog. OK, probably not.

6 thoughts on “HOWTO: Make a weblog a gopherlog

  1. HOWTO turn your blog into a gopher site

    George Hotelling’s April Fools’ Day prank was converting his blog to a gopher site — gopher being a text-only, menu-driven precursor of the Web (“gopherlog, or rlog for short”). In so doing, he created some scripts to simplify the process. He’s posted…

Leave a Reply