Gemini protocol is a great way to participate in a type of pre-figurative politics of building the society we want to live in. This post is an attempt to start or continue a dialog about intentions for this gemini space many of us float in, and to build community dialog around our goals for it.
There are lots of posts around the gemini specification. I think that's well trod ground and I'm personally going to move on to the intention of the community, for how else can we avoid the mistakes of other protocols, decentralized software and communities?
Many of us on Gemini have strong political opinions. These opinions are often narrowly focused around privacy, technological sovereignty, the freedom to 'own our data', gather and make digital space and communications without behemoth corporate platforms. This is a great start. Can we go further?
The emphasis on a lightweight technology means it can theoretically be adopted by those with less technological and financial resources. It can also be a great system for many communities, individuals and groups but in practical terms we are missing the documentation, tutorials, diverse leadership and other supporting systems to help diverse communities enter and use Gemini. Here's some ways I'm thinking we can try addressing these. What do you think?
If we want a more diverse group of people on Gemini, we need to build documentation, resources and promote it to people in other specific communities. We also need more places for communication around building and promoting these resources.
A group, multiple groups, or network of individuals could engage in this, and organize through Gemini posts, an email list or other location. Because IRC is already a tech-space, it may not be the best space to do so however.
Examples of beginner-friendly documentation:
What is Gemini? by James Tomasino (YouTube video)
Also, I appreciate Solderpunk's Gemini Protocol Documentation. I think additional resources could be created specifically to target non-technical users.
Gemini Protocol documentation
Who else would be interested in Gemini?
In short, we have some low-hanging fruit of groups that could be welcomed into Gemini to expand our community:
This is not a definitive list by any means. Some examples of communities to welcome to Gemini follow:
Although TOFU, Gemini's built-in method for Trust On First Use certificates may not be the most secure system, its tradeoffs will have to be weighted against a competing important interest of activists: self-controlled/owned spaces free from the restrictions, spying or marginalization of tech spaces.
How activist communities be brought into the space?
Tutorial videos, intro documentation on hosting a gemini capsule, perhaps even a server instance aimed at activist or political groups/writers. This should be seeded by a number of activist groups that can be given some resources such as training, some funding to pay them an honorarium for their own time and knowledge, and ongoing support to help them host their knowledge bases such as wikis and articles. Individuals or collectives within gemini community could step up to financially and organizationally start this in a very bootstrapped manner with a minimum of resources. A type of mentorship could be set up that intentionally supports and quickly empowers in particular: women and non-binary folks, and groups of politically-oriented tech-focused groups in the global south. For example, a quickstart method could be to piggyback on the various alternative and DIY tech conferences such as Our Networks, Radical Networks, but also and perhaps especially the conferences aimed at these potentially-adjacent activist communities such as Allied Media Conference. Imagine intro workshops at these conferences built for these communities or organized like a wikipedia edit-a-thon meant to help set these groups up in a 1 1/2 hour workshop.
Allied Media Conference
There are many other communities that could be welcomed and encouraged to join in this way. It likely will take someone or a group of people that are partakers of Gemini protocol who are also engaged in an additional hobby or community to specifically build resources and welcome in their own communities.
Gemini's text-focused orientation could be a boon to support those with disabilities.
Are there clients with text to speech? Are there resources built by and for those Blind/Visually Impaired? What about resources for those with other accessibility needs?
There are many accessibility issues and we can support those with the knowledge to publish best practices and provide support for inclusion. There are many ways we can be supportive of the Disability Community. I don't have background in this myself so I'm hesitent to share too many ideas here and hope others can continue this dialog and brainstorming.
I have been teaching Gemini in my comp sci classes. It's easy for this group to get started, use and build clients and read capsules. Is there enough content for them yet? Are ther posts oriented around younger people? Not as such yet except perhaps for e-worm.club which appears to be a lot of participants in their early or perhaps mid-20s. I don't remember how I stumbled across it, but it appears to be a bit over a year old, fairly active like a tilde community, and has a number of young people including voices that are not just male voices in the space. Again, I don't want to proscribe what we should do other than to say we could provide certain on-ramps for educational-based communities to join.
Neocities does a great job of providing scaffolding for young people in a friendly environment to join the internet with their own created content. Its a model that a potential host could follow. In fact, I messaged the admin of Neocities last year about the possiblity of hosting Gemini capsules but they aren't involved in this space and felt like it was outside their focus. I still think it provides a good model. Neocities hosts a lot of subculture content, is open source, provides a way to surface new content, allows web and CLI interaction, takes donation and recurring payment but also allows freemium use and features a supportive community.
Along with welcoming more communities in, let's reduce the influence of toxic parts of community.
How can this be improved? Create a code of conduct and a statement of values for the mailing list or any other semi-official channels or public forums or spaces that people set up that explicitly sets the tone and guidelines for the community. This will make diverse communities feel safer and respected. This code and/or statement can list the expectations for being a participant in the space and the repercussions for not following these basic principles. Then it can be followed and community caretakers could privately message folks and/or publicly respond to an infraction and then take further action if the behavior continues. Folks operating public directories of Gemini capsules may want to consider taking this action as well.
p5.js Community Statement
This was a rambling post with some thoughts on expanding Gemini's community. I'd love to hear more ideas, responses, feedback and see any of these start to take root and grow further.
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I neglected to mention Gemini Quickstart, which provides probably the best tutorial and general info page on Gemini that I've seen.
Gemini Quickstart (gemini)
Gemini Quickstart (html)~lettuce