Gemini Isn’t The Solution To The Broken Web

I’m not sure if you heard, but The Web Is F*cked and techies everywhere are touting the Gemini protocol as its saviour. I disagree. A lot.

When I wrote The Web Is F*cked, I had a number of people reach out asking why I didn’t mention Gemini, as it’s the saviour of the web…apparently.

Well, I didn’t mention Gemini because I think it actually does more harm than good when it comes to the web. Let me explain…

What is Gemini?

The Gemini project website describe the project as the following:

Gemini is a new internet protocol which:

  • Is heavier than gopher
  • Is lighter than the web
  • Will not replace either
  • Strives for maximum power to weight ratio
  • Takes user privacy very seriously
Example Gemini site
An example Gemini site

To put that into human-digestible form; Gemini is basically a very light, text-only alternative to HTML.

Because Gemini is vastly different from HTML, you also need special software to view any Gemini site.

My problem with Gemini

I just don’t see the point of it. I get that it’s a cool project for nerds, but I fail to see the value that Gemini actually brings to the web.

Ok, so it’s a text-only web protocol that respects user privacy. That all sounds great, but HTML can also be a text-only web protocol that respects user privacy.

Actually, HTML is just a tool. It doesn’t respect or disrespect a user’s privacy. It’s website owners that do/don’t respect a user’s privacy. So to say that Gemini respects user privacy seems strange to me.

It would be trivial to create a HTML page that is text only and has absolutely no tracking. Which brings me back to the point – what value does Gemini add to the web?

Remember, folks. HTML doesn’t track you and neither does Gemini. So they’re both equal in terms of privacy.

The Gemini protocol is a barrier

The irony here is that Gemini isn’t an enabler to fix the web; it’s actually part of the problem.

If you want someone to visit your Gemini capsule (sites are called capsules on Gemini for some daft reason) you either need to use a Gemini proxy, or a Gemini specific web browser.

So by using Gemini, a site capsule owner is erecting yet more technical barriers and silos throughout the Internet.

Please, tell me reader, how is that fixing the web? I’m struggling to understand this one.

Final thoughts

Look, I get it. Gemini is a fun little project for nerds and techies to play around with. As someone who enjoys web design, I can certainly see the appeal.

But please, stop touting Gemini as being the answer to all the problems on the web. Because he fact is, if it were to gain mass adoption it would do more harm than good.

The folks who build Gemini even say on their site that they have no intention of replacing HTML. So why do all the techbros think it will?

Instead, make beautiful lightweight websites that are privacy respecting, using good old HTML, CSS and maybe even some JavaScript.

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