The current state of software development has huge issues with needless complexity resulting from poorly chosen abstractions.
Gopher and IRC make it possible to use any client of your choosing, thus keeping innovation and improvements accessible to anyone with an idea.
I agree to the former and disagree to the latter---they are not correlated. In fact, IRC has demonstrated that it might be hard to adapt to new requirements without breaking many things (no matter it's an existing client, a community or a requirement itself). Today the relevance of IRC is mostly due to the existing community and not due to the technical innovation, and casual users wouldn't benefit from that. I don't know much about Gopher but I haven't seen any counterevidence to this observation.