Why would students use gemini?


Hi folks, this title perhaps sounds a little click-baity, but it's actually a genuine question.

This semester I'm teaching a computer science course to a diverse community of students, and among many other things, I'm teaching html/css/js and node.js and bash. This is the course I taught a few years ago (and wrote about previously) where I built a tilde server for the class, that they tried out. I'm teaching the class again, with a new crop of students, and I wanted some help here. On the one hand, I'm excited to show them Gemini. On the other hand, the last time I taught this class, it didn't make a big impression as I recall.

What attracts me to Gemini is the ability to read blog-like articles on topics that interest me, and the slow pace. Maybe this isn't that attractive to students!

Students in my courses tend to find HTML fine but dull, CSS exciting, and they tend to enjoy all the brutalist and experimental artist websites I show them. This week we went on a link spree checking out the handmade websites of Gossip's Web.

Gossip's Web: the directory of handmade websites

Next week we'll be building weblogs, a collaborative webring, and checking out the alt/slow 'social media' site special.fish.


Then we'll start building our own experimental chat applications and server software.

All of these the students (mostly) can appreciate and get into. But I can't say the same for Gemini.

Sadly, the one server I found previously that seemed to have a lot of young people and students on it (e-worm.club) appears to have shut down their gemini server, and while their www site is up, it's not active anymore either.

In some ways, this parallels my experience becoming a ham radio operator as a kid. I kept at it until high school, then gradually stopped when I found MUDs, MUSHes and aol chatrooms as a teen (90s). They were realtime, dynamic, and exciting to me.

So I'm wondering: would gemini be attractive to students at all, and if so, how? Are you a student (or young person) on Gemini? Please share your gemlog, or any thoughts you care to share.

And how would you explain or provide context about it that would connect for them?

Any other projects, sites, gemlogs, blogs or other software you'd suggest I share with them? Here's an incomplete list of some of the software, websites, concepts and tools we checked out last time I taught this course: tildes, digital gardens, BBSes, finger, wall, git, blogging, licenses, FLOSS, creative commons, manifestos, codes of conducts, contributing to open source software, working with servers, building our own chat app (this time i'm thinking we may build on twtxt), building an experimental browser with electron, minus, die with me, Somebody. We also extensively used glitch.com to build web apps.

Maybe these are too exciting and I'm covering too much in one course for Gemini to really be able to stick out in all that. I just know it's the one I myself tend to return to week after week, even after the past 3 years. So maybe Gemini doesn't stand out to them because it's 'slow.' But let me know if you have any other thoughts.

Keep in mind: my students are young, have grown up with social media, are on tik tok. Some of them don't own a personal computer, and many mostly have access to the internet primarily on their phone.

Last time, the students seemed to enjoy the tilde server, playing the old bsd-games, competing in tetris-bsd and hunt. I'm going to set up astrobotany and finger, adventure and ideally have them build something that works a little like tilde.town's cadastre.

Tilde Town Cadastre

The "town"

The best way to reach me is lettuce at ctrl-c.club. And if you'd like your post listed publicly, please let me know your 'handle.'