Note — Jun 02, 2019

The Dark Forest Theory of the Internet

Strickler uses four or five metaphors to show us how people are moving to more private online spaces. The main one and most interesting, is the dark forest, where animals beware of predators and stay silent. That’s the first part which is an interesting line of thought. In the second part (starts at the bowling alley) he seems to see his relatively extreme disconnecting and going dark as a sign that more people will do the same, resulting in mostly the predators being left on the big platforms.

I believe it’s more of a rebalancing, not a complete migration away. It’s entirely possible (even essential?) to keep a presence on some of the larger platforms while at the same time shifting some interactions and activity to other, more private, places. We’re still learning how this online thing works, shifting our uses.

In response to the ads, the tracking, the trolling, the hype, and other predatory behaviors, we’re retreating to our dark forests of the internet, and away from the mainstream. […]

Dark forests like newsletters and podcasts are growing areas of activity. As are other dark forests, like Slack channels, private Instagrams, invite-only message boards, text groups, Snapchat, WeChat, and on and on. This is where Facebook is pivoting with Groups (and trying to redefine what the word “privacy” means in the process). […]

The public and semi-public spaces we created to develop our identities, cultivate communities, and gain knowledge were overtaken by forces using them to gain power of various kinds (market, political, social, and so on).

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