Microblogging and gemini

Posted on 2022-01-19

As said on my status post yesterday, I've been a bit away of the gemini (among others) world in the past few months but followed from time to time my favorite capsules :).

One thing I've notice is that the microblogging format twtxt" has became "famous" in the gemini community. If you're not familiar with it, it is a very simple text file where you put tiny entries following a define format (eg: 1 line, up to 140 characters is prefered, …). It was first invented and used on the web but seems that more and more capsule owners have created theirs. It is cool to see the gemini community embrace selfhosted micro blogging :).

Twtxt format (WEB)

It is quite an elegant and simplistic solution to selfhost your micro blog, and well aligned with gemini spirit of minimalism and simplicity.

If you've read this gemlog before, you might also be familiar with the tinylog format, which is also a micro blogging standard attempt, but focused on gemini / gemtext. The format is a simplified version of gemtext with specific rules to ensure entries separation. I'm fully aware that the format as it is now is quite more complex than twtxt, but could allow more flexibility to authors. The 1 line thing is really limiting in my opinion.

Tinylog standard (WEB)

My previous post about tinylog

When I read Rob's post « Federating over Gemini » earlier this week, this really resonated:

If a common format for flight logs was (voluntarily) agreed upon, using a separate format like twtxt might not even be necessary. In such a case, given just an Atom or RSS feed, capsules could follow the links in the feed, parse the posts, and put their contents into a timeline.

Federating over Gemini

Because that was exactly what I had in mind when I discovered lace and wanted to standardize the tinylog format! That's also why I setup a global timeline of all known tinylogs¹ so it would be easy for people to "follow" others, and that's why I created GTL² as a TUI tool to access all tinylogs you want from a single app.

It is interesting to see that both these standard have users, it does show the concept is appealing to geminauts. But it does raise the question about having 2 standards for a limited number of writers in already a niche space…

I could link the famous xkcd image saying "let's build another standard"³, but that's not the point :). As I'm looking to my personal project and time / effort I want to put into them, I'm obviously thinking of what should be the future of GTL. Should I simply move to twtxt format and stop working on GTL? Or add both format in GTL so that at least I can read both time of micro blog? This last idea could be the easiest in theory but that doesn't help the global point.

I'm unsure right now of what I'm going to do :]. I still have a few improvements I want to add to GTL just for fun, but maybe that's wasted effort? If I have fun doing it it's not, so who cares 🤷.

Antenna, one of the greatest service in the gemini space (thanks @ew0k <3), is aggregating twtxt files and thus provides a unified vision of txtwt files already.

On an another hand, Station, another one of the greatest service in the gemini space (thanks @martin too <3), show a tinylog format of user entries.

Even in a minimal space like gemini, standards "conflict" between themselves, so it really brings the question of trying to "reconcile" the 2 user base to make it better for the global community. Or is the community maybe better with 2? Who knows (:

At the end of the day, I agree with @Ben:

I find this [twtxt] to be something that would make an excellent addition to the Gemini ecosystem, providing a native alternative on our network to things like the Fediverse, or even centralized microblogging services like Station

Ben's post: « # Twtxt Over Gemini »

In the end, twtxt or tinylog (or another community accepted format) could help creating nice ecosystem where geminauts share their thoughts and potentially interact with other, in an opt-in kind of way so everybody wins :)

This post was more a quick brain dump at this point, I'll try to think about it in the coming weeks to decide :).

¹ Tinylog aggregator

² GTL (WEB)

³ XKCD another standard

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