Information browsing services differ from basic information retrieval services because they permit a user to discover information without retrieving a copy. Most information browsing services operate interactively. Software on the user's computer permits the user to contact a remote computer and examine the information it contains.
Gopher, created at the university of Minnesota in 1991, is a specific information browsing service available on the Internet. A user interacts with the gopher client software on his or her local computer, which contacts gopher servers running on remote computers as needed.
From the user's point of view, gopher consists of a large set of menus that span many computers. Each item in a gopher menu represents a file of information, a computer program, or a pointer to another menu. When the user selects an item, gopher either displays the information, runs the computer program, or fetches and displays the new menu. An item in a menu can reference information on a different computer. Whenever a user selects such an item, the gopher software contracts the new computer automatically. Because gopher keeps the exact location of computers hidden from the user, it provides the illusion of a single, large set of interconnected menus. The user does not have to worry about domain names, IP addresses, changing programs, etc.
To make it easy for a user to return to a menu item, gopher permits the user to record the item's location in a bookmark. A user can follow a bookmark directly to a particular item without searching the menu system.
Submitted: Alexandros Zakas