Gemini vs Minimalist HTML
A lot of people who see the Gemini protocol for the first time come up with the same criticism:
If you hate the modern web’s bloat, why not just use minimal html?
Gemini has a number of advantages over a series of small html websites.
When people say ‘minimal html’, they all have different ideas about what that would look like. Some would like only html, others would include some CSS, and still more might want a world without any tables.
We can’t answer the question of ‘what really is a minimal website?’, but by having a separate protocol, we gain a clear line of demarcation. We can confidently say what counts as a Gemini capsule, even if we can’t all agree on what counts as a minimal website.
Anyone can write Gemini. Nobody who writes, writes raw html.
Gemini capsules really exist. The only equivalent movement among minimal-html enthusiasts is list of small sites which lead nowhere, or link to external, bloated, pages.
Despite how tiny the ‘smol internet’ remains, the majority of links on any given capsule lead to more Gemini capsules. This space really works, while the minimal html movement remains a nice idea, but lacks praxis.
No Ick - Guaranteed
Anyone who actually uses such a maimed web browser can immediately tell the difference between it and a working Gemini browser.
Another common criticism which follows:
Why not just make a minimal browser, which only renders html? And if you want Markdown-like syntax, you could just write in markdown and have that generate html. Then demand good TLS, just like Gemini. Then other browsers could also visit your site.
Congratulations - you’ve reinvented Gemini over port 443. Your server is much bigger, requires additional dependencies to render the Markdown, and the browser has no idea if it’s going to a trusted, minimal site, or if a link goes to some external page which will simply fail to load, but you have succeeded in reinventing most of Gemini.
But why bother? What’s so scary about port 1965?
Every Gemini Page is Beatiful
External visitors might see your minimal site, but all such sites would look like motherfuckingwebsite. The web fundamentally wants the server to decide how to display things, which leads to bad decisions. But when the user decides how to display text, all pages look exactly as they want.