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I'd really love (and have toyed around with) a modern reimagining of Gopher, targeted toward mobile devices and maybe e-readers, and with a focus on accessibility. Just the content, please, and as quick as you can get it on my screen. I'll pick the styling options that make it easiest for me to read.



That was pretty much the idea behind Rebol IOS or X-Internet [0, 1]. I love the idea of a half-megabyte runtime, zero-install, cross-platform that can run on Linux, Android, HaikuOS, Windows and Mac.

Here's a Rebol one liner that opens a GUI, reads web page and sends it as email:

  view layout [u: field "user@rebol.com" h: field "http://" btn "Send" [send to-email u/text read to-url h/text alert "Sent"]]

Too bad it never caught on. Anyone who's ever dealt with JS will identify with Rebol's motto:

Most software systems have become needlessly complex. We rebel against that complexity, fighting it with the most powerful tool available, language itself.

[0] http://www.drdobbs.com/architecture-and-design/the-rebol-ios...

[1] http://www.rebol.com/ios-intro.html


Rebol is not dead yet. I expect a new bounce with the Red language.


I love Firefox "reader mode" and wish there were some way to turn it on by default, because it always provides a better experience than whatever the page designer intended.



Alternatively, a keyboard shortcut would be great.


If you're willing to install an addon, there is: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/autoreadervie... (I'm in no way affiliated with the author of the addon, nor do I use it — with Vimperator, I'm just a "gr" away from reader mode anyway.)


Thanks for the suggestion! I'll give it a try.


Unfortunately most sites I visit don't offer reader view as an option.


Is it something the site has to offer? I thought it was just something the browser was doing on its own, for any page meeting some (undocumented?) criteria.


You're correct, the browser extracts and reformats the content. Firefox only shows the Reader View icon for pages where it thinks it can do a good job of that.


I find myself wondering if it relies on the "for printing" reformating of various sites. This because i was browsing one site i could have sworn had the icon earlier using desktop Firefox, but it didn't show up. That is until i enable the JS of s third party printing framework in Noscript. After that it showed up.


It's using this code:

https://github.com/mozilla/readability/blob/master/Readabili...

which is a descendant of the original Readability.js published by Arc90, before they decided to turn it into a proprietary Instapaper clone.

It extracts what looks like article text from the page markup. DOM elements included for a printer-friendly view could possibly be helping, but it doesn't target that directly.


I'm not entirely sure what is going on with reader view on Firefox mobile, but sometimes it doesn't show the icon in the URL bar. However, if you open the hamburger menu and add the page to your reading list (the "book+" icon), then switch to the reading list and open the page from there, you can sometimes get reader view when it's not otherwise available.


Scrolling slightly down the page then refreshing also does the trick without needing to clear it from your reading list. Just a refresh sometimes works but it's inconsistent.

I suspect it's looking at the page before it's fully rendered and determining that it doesn't meet some criterion for reader mode.


That sentiment brings me back to the old days of unix geeks writing structural html with no concern for appearance.

The separation of structure and formatting is not practical for serious media of any kind. You can't separate form and content. Nor would most people want to, because (visual and other) complexity is an inevitable and rewarding part of human experience...


Instapaper? Reader View? RSS readers? Ebooks? Separation of form from content is both practical and commonplace.

Your blog post may be beautifully styled, but that makes no difference if I can't even load it, or the fonts are so thin I have to squint to try to read, or the glaring white background makes me see floaters. A blind person doesn't care about the whizz-bang of $framework if your JS-only site breaks their screen reader.


Likewise I read all Hacker News links and comments over an iPhone HN app. Absolutely don't miss the form at all except in the cases where the source HTML is not semantic and so the reader mucks it up. But that's an issue with structure relying on form.


Most screen readers look at the output of the DOM. They aren't trying to parse RAW HTML from the server. Really wish this myth would go away :/


The problem for authors is accommodating all the different modes which readers may consume their media. Well-styled hypertext presented in the way the author intends/imagines is never going away, there will always be a place for that and it is very important.

For other use-cases... that's why we have HTML and stylesheets. The problem has been solved, mostly sort-of.


> The separation of structure and formatting is not practical for serious media of any kind.

As already mentioned, this is demonstrably false. I'm choosing to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you don't understand how a great amount serious media is served nowadays, since the alternative means you are attempting to score internet points with a second-level contrarian post. But I have to wonder where you've been.


This has nothing to do with technology. A movie can't be accurately summarized textually. A book of poetry is profoundly coloured by the typeface chosen. A corporate logo is a visual artifact that cannot be communicated any other way.


You're applying an absurdly narrow definition to the term "serious media" to support your false and equally absurd narrative. Congrats, you got your points.


The AP's articles are printed in dozens of newspapers and websites. The content is completely separated from the form. Wire services have been doing this forever.


"Serious media"? What does that even mean? I guess all those articles I read with mostly text and a few inline images/videos aren't serious.


"The separation of structure and formatting is not practical for serious media of any kind."

The separation of structure and formatting is not practical for serious advertising platform of any kind.


"You can't separate form and content." -- as the author, but you should think about the reader.

They may not be on the device you chose to support.


That would be terrific. Can you imagine the decrease in data costs vs. increase in usability / experience once a few popular services were available?


Or, you know, people could just write webpages that worked without loading 10s of megs of (useless) assets.


Agreed. I had to create a 'modern' design website for a client with all the fullscreen images included. I hate those websites but had to do the job. So I decided to do it all myself. And guess what: 80% compression for a fullscreen image is enough, people don't notice it. All animations were done in CSS. And then I wrote some small javascripts for those hide on scroll, paralax images and other scripts.

Kept the page size below 1MB, server time around 0.3s (ProcessWire), onload below 3s.

It's still not optimal, but when you dump all those bloated Javascripts and compress images a page should not be 10MB.


"Love" the latest fad there, where JS is used to turn a site into a flip book as you scroll down. This by having new "content" come up and cover the old stuff as if you were flipping pages.


Accelerated Mobile Pages is kind of along those lines. https://www.ampproject.org/


Beat me to it, I'm working on a implementation of this myself currently. I like the idea so far.


AFAIK there really isn't a story for clients to configure how to view the content. It is really just a way of removing bloat on pages, so they render faster on mobile.


Given the way that AMP standardizes markup, it's easy for a client to do whatever it wants instead of using the "official" javascript.


The question that all the writers are asking is: in such a world, how do I make a living wage and put food on the table?


By writing things that are worth paying for?


Did you pay for any content recently? What kind of content was it?


I paid for download links to Louis C.K's latest thing, Horace and Pete.

And too many Kindle books...

I haven't ever paid for any blog-type content, but I probably would if someone marketed it right.

With advertising, I don't see why everyone's assuming it would be impossible on a plain text medium.

I listen to podcasts that have sponsors. They just talk about their sponsors in the middle of the show. They try to make it sincere ("I use this product myself" etc). It seems to me like this is a very high quality type of advertising, compared to blockable little ad server banners.


I pay for ebooks and audiobooks mostly. I've never been interested in any of that blog-type content and don't really consume any of it for free, other than what's posted to HN. It may as well stop existing for all I care to be honest. And even without ads there'll always be all kinds of blogs because sharing is caring.


I don't think a streamlined content delivery model would necessarily preclude ad serving.


Capitalism's default answer is retraining...


The correct phrase is "how do I put food on my family?". You'd think "a writer" would know better.


The protocol is very simple (delimited with cr+lf). It's a kind of extended "ls".


Isn't that what CSS is supposed to achieve?


You're trying to solve a social problem with technology. That can work sometimes, but I seriously doubt it will work here.

The problem with this is that the content producers have incentives to add content they get paid for, and people who pay to have others shove content in front of readers have an incentive to make that content as eye-catching as possible.

So first it's just text. Then it's bold and underline, both of which have legitimate uses in real content but both of which are also obviously useful for ads. Then it's blinking, and to hell with light-sensitive epileptics. Then it's all over.

The alternative is the old radio trick of weaving all of the content together as tightly as possible, so it all gets consumed in one big gulp. That has implications for long-term credibility, but that's a long-term problem beyond the time horizon of the bills your financial people just got today, and then there's payroll...


You could just use 1993-style HTML...


So, html then?


With tables and frames for layout!


Tables? Frames? That stuff didn't exist in 1993.

(Tables first arrived in Mosaic 2.0 Alpha 8 in December 1994, according to http://www.barrypearson.co.uk/articles/layout_tables/history...)


That pales in comparison the the real innovation in ~94. The blink tag, so legit




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