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The Dark Net Hardcover – August 21, 2014
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|Hardcover, August 21, 2014||
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�A provocative excursion to the darker side of human nature set free by the anonymous and unregulated boundaries of cyberspace." ---Kirkus --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
About the Author
Jamie Bartlett is the Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at the think-tank Demos, where he specializes in online social movements and the impact of technology on society. Jamie writes a weekly column on technology for the Telegraph. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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The subtitle, "Inside the Digital Underworld", also seems misleading, as most of the book is not about illegal activity. Personally, the word "underworld" also carries connotations with "inaccessibility", "obscurity", and previously unthought-of lifestyles and subcultures. Disappointingly, there was basically no form of human behaviour here that I wasn't already aware of. I'll give you a rough rundown of the subjects of each chapter from memory and let you decide for yourself:
1. A history of flaming and trolling going back to Arpanet, including the practice on 4chan's /b/ board of using the details in posters' nude self-pics to identify them.
Some information on the "cypherpunks", a crypto-anarchist group.
2. British nationalist and anti-extremist groups creating echo-chambers for themselves on Facebook and infiltrating each-other's management networks.
3. Programmers living in an anarchist commune in Barcelona working to improve Bitcoin.
Applications for the Bitcoin blockchain idea, such as Twister (decentralized P2P microblogging).
Some detail on Satoshi Nakamoto, creator of Bitcoin.
4. An unpleasant chapter on a man's descent into pedophilia, going from "teens" to "jailbait" to young girls, and only realizing the severity of his actions once the police called around to his house.
Pedophile networks, and the people working to combat them.
Some detail on the psychological effects of internet use, such as dis-association.
5. Finally, a chapter on Tor-only websites. Describes the author's successful attempt to buy a small amount of cannabis. Looks at their capacity to rapidly adapt to FBI infiltration. The author finds that they are remarkable accessible, easy-to-use, and relatively risk-free.
6. The author meets a cam girl as she puts on a show and receives tips from hundreds of viewers.
Many viewers compete to be particular cam girl's highest tippers, making friends with them and other viewers.
7. Investigates the subjects of pro-anorexia and bulimia web forums, and sites where suicidal people can receive support and advice on how to commit the act. Follows a character named Amelia made up of several sources as she is sucked into the friendly, supportive, yet toxic atmosphere of a pro-anorexia site. She is hospitalized and eventually recovers.
8 (Conclusion). Investigates trans-humanist and anarcho-primitavist proponents.
A little on the "singularity" concept.
Wraps it up by saying that the web doesn't really have depth; everything is only a few clicks away if you know where to look.
After the initial disappointment of finding that it wasn't entirely about the hidden web, I was hoping it would take more of an anthropological approach, where the aim would be to shed light on properly obscure off-shoots of human experience, e.g. otherkins, furries, conspiracy theorists, dark magicians, what have you. Instead, it reads like a series of long-form magazine articles like you might pass the time with on a plane journey.
Far too much of the material in this book was simply fleshing-out stories I was already familiar with from mainstream newspapers and websites. Reddit's Futurology section, for example, where most of the information to be found in chapter 8 is widely disseminated, is often accessible from the home page and currently has 1.25 million subscribers.
I also felt the asking price was too steep for what it is: I paid $16 for this on Kindle. I hope this review prevents others who are now in the position I was a few days ago from making the same mistake.