Microblogging in Geminispace

Initial Discovery

In what seems to be true Gemini fashion (I'm assuming, because I'm new here), I was hopping from capsule to capsule and kept seeing things about Tinylog and twtxt and pikkulogs. Being that this is Gemini, I of course had to jump over to Gemini search and start sifting through the results to try and figure out what these things are. But also being Gemini, the search is part of the adventure and if you don't like that kind of thing, then Gemini might not be for you (I'm saving the centralization of Gemini discussion for a later gemlog). What I found was that:

I'll start with what seems to be the oldest, pikkulog, but first lets have a general reminder of what a microblog is in the first place.


Microblogs are just as they sound - quick notes or updates that don't warrant an entire long form entry, like this one. Think Twitter.

Due to the way Gemini is structured, these microblogs are not centralized but are instead simple text files (sometimes gemtext) hosted by individuals themselves. All posts are in chronological order (but don't have to be), with some being limited to a certain character count. In some instances these are picked up by various tools or aggregators to form a typical timeline that you would see on something like Twitter.


A quick search brings up @solderpunk's pikkulog [1]. Judging by the dates, Solderpunk hasn't updated since December 2020. However, Solderpunk describes it as:

A little gemlog for short and less formal things, and for replies to happenings in Geminispace. Mostly in English, maybe sometimes in very bad Finnish.

And further down we see the source [3]:

Inspired by Shufei's Weiphlog

So it seems that Shufei might be the originator of such microblogging. Admittedly, this may only be because the creator of Gemini (Solderpunk) ended up using it, but nonetheless, folks in the Geminiverse took to writing these microblogs.

One interesting part is the translation of each microblog name. Shufei calls it:

The 微phlog (Weiphlog)

Which, when translated via DuckDuckGo [4] shows that it's Chinese Simplified for "small". Additionally, if you translate "pikku" from Solderpunk's Pikkulog [5], we find that it's Finnish for "little". This leads me to the next section, Tinylog.

[1] @Solderpunk pikkulog index

[2] Solderpunk June 2020 Pikkulog

[3] Shufei Weiphlog

[4] 微 on DuckDuckGo

[5] Pikku on DuckDuckGo


Tinylog has an RFC [6] set out for it to define a common structure. Although "[t]he original idea and most "rules" comes from Drew/uoou/Friendo['s]" Lace script [7], Bacardi55 has formally defined the structure which allows for easier aggregation.


I want to emphasize the first point - while twtxt is plaintext, Tinylogs are Gemtext, and thus can be read by *any* Gemini client natively, in whatever native format that client renders (i.e., Lagrange rendering vs Kristall, for example).


The primary tool to consume and subscribe to tinylogs is called GTL [9]. GTL is a command-line program that a UI mode that's enabled by default. I've yet to put it through the paces, but after you figure out the keybindings, you simply find a tinylog that you want to subscribe to (via Bacardi55's list, or on Station, or simply stumbling upon one (via search or otherwise). Once subscribed, GTL will interleave the posts by date into a timeline for you.


It's also worth mentioning here that Lace, the original script, could also be used.


Pollux.casa, a capsule hosting service, also offers tinylog support in the form of pollux.casa cockpit [11]

Finding tinylogs

[6] Tinylog RFC on Codeberg by Bacardi55

[7] Lace script - interleaves microblogs

[8] Station social microblogging platform

[9] GTL on Codeberg

[10] Bacardi55's list of known tinylogs

[11] Pollux.casa Cockpit


At it's core, twtxt is simply a plaintext file that has timestamps and 140 character blog entries. It first got its start on the internet, supposedly for/by "hackers", but has since been absorbed by Geminiverse. Some folks are in the tinylog camp, while others support twtxt, and I've seen a few capsules try out both. One benefit to twtxt is if you are dual-hosting your content on the web and Gemini - you just update in one location. [12]

Per the docs, a typical twtxt file is formatted like thus:


2016-02-04T13:30:00+01:00 You can really go crazy here! ┐(゚∀゚)┌

2016-02-03T23:05:00+01:00 @<example http://example.org/twtxt.txt> welcome to twtxt!

2016-02-01T11:00:00+01:00 This is just another example.

2015-12-12T12:00:00+01:00 Fiat lux!


As you can see, it really is just timestamps with up to 140 character status updates (if you go over clients are supposed to truncate at 140). Replies are similar to Tinylog - using the @, username, and path to their twtxt file. Username is optional.

twtxt is both the format and the name of the CLI program to interact with the twtxt world

twtxt is aggregated by Antenna

[12] twtxt Documentation



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