Blackspot

Dérive on the Shadownet

Psychogeography of the darkweb.

Guy Debord and the Situationists pioneered a radical way of interacting with the urban environment, a method for revealing, and later mapping, the subtle psychic flows of the city. They called it the dérive and these psychically attuned walks became an integral part of the situationist political strategy.

"In a dérive one or more persons ... let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there..." Guy Debord wrote in 1958. "From a dérive point of view cities have psychogeographical contours, with constant currents, fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones."

Half a century after situationists mapped the arrondissements of Paris, it is time for a next generation of rebels to explore the dark, subterranean cities that Debord could not have accessed: the hidden shadownets that flow below the surface of today's global internet. Let this be a first attempt at a psychogeographic exploration of the illicit darkwebs, the anonymous networks and clandestine sub-cultures of today's cryptoanarchic shadownet.

Just as the situationist of yesterday would begin their dérive with a choice of cities, our journey begins with a decision between the three main anonymous networks: Tor, I2P and Freenet. Each holds unique challenges and has a particular culture but today we shall make our decision based upon the chance flip of a coin and begin in Tor's onionland.

Although many people are aware that Tor allows for anonymous browsing of the mainstream, corporate internet, fewer realize that Tor also includes a so-called "hidden onionland" where both users and the servers they are accessing are anonymous. These hidden websites are distinguished by their .onion URLs, hence the name onionland, and our interest will be in staying entirely within the network of these sites that are inaccessible outside of Tor.

Every journey begins with preparatory steps. For us that involves anonymizing ourselves so that we may pass into the shadownet. But aside from the technical steps necessary to gain access to the darkweb, we must also be attuned to the very real dangers that we face. Debord was careful to explain that all dérives come with risk, and the stroll through onionland is no exception. We are entering an network where anonymity allows for the open exchange of illicit information along with, as we shall see, virtual and real goods. The danger for us is that we shall bring back traces of the shadownet and that these illegal residues will linger on our computer.

To protect myself on this particular journey, I have constructed a special Tor-only laptop that is incapable of long-term memory. The hard-drive has been physically removed and the entire operating system is run off of a read-only Linux livecd specially designed for exploring Tor. All of my traffic data will be encrypted and anonymous. When the system is powered down, it will be incapable of remembering what occurred. As I shall save no mementos of our walk except my memories, there will be a physical, and virtual, separation between these two worlds.

I insert the cd, turn on my amnesiac computer and begin my stroll. As the first .onion page slowly loads, it feels as if the empty room in which I sit is invaded by the specter of the law. Faced with complete freedom, the invisible police inside my head makes its presence felt. Prohibition shakes its stick. I note this sensation of risk as a part of the psychogeography of onionland and continue strolling. From a general directory site listing, I make my way towards community. I want to know who else is in this world and find that there are plenty of message boards where active discussion is being held.

One site in particular, The Opensource Vendor Database, grabs my attention. Here I stumble across my first taste of the illicit: an anonymous website where all manner of drugs is for sale including marijuana by the pound, LSD from Europe, and synthetic designer drugs discreetly shipped from special laboratories. The site includes a reputation system to protect buyers from the feds and scammers while sellers hide behind complicated payment systems that involve a gold-backed digital currency called the Pecunix. From the comments left by satisfied users, the site is clearly a hub of international drug trafficking but the friendly tone of the sellers and the simplicity of dealing via postal mail has the strange effect of making one feel as if they have entered an alternate reality where buying drugs is a no big deal.

We leave behind this underworld and follow links until we come to the Hidden Wiki, the definitive guide to the darkest recesses of onionland. A war is raging here between those who want the hidden darkweb to include everything and those who want to exclude at least one thing: child pornography. This debate plagues all anonymity networks because of the crypto-anarchist position that any ability to filter content on the hidden web would represent a flaw in the anonymity system. After all, their argument goes, if we can block abhorrent pornography than tyrannies could block politically dangerous content. Freenet is notorious for building "censorship resistance" into its anonymity system: no one, not even the creator, can remove content from Freenet because it is an entirely p2p, distributed datastore without servers that can be knocked offline. Content drifts in Freenet like flotsam in the ocean. Tor, on the other hand, relies on currently operating servers which results in a profound psychogeographic disparity that is akin to knowing one is reading a book versus talking to a real person. Tor feels alive whereas Freenet often feels dead or ghost-like.

Walking away from the Hidden Wiki war against child exploitation, we find ourselves at talk.Masked, an anonymous discussion forum that will be the final destination of today's dérive. Here we discern a strong anti-corporate bent and experience shivers as we overhear participants discuss the possibility of provoking an armed insurrection or civil war in America. It is just talk for now, but it is clear that there is a seriousness that suggests it might not be talk forever. Will onionland be the place where an anti-corporate revolution is planned?

After several hours in the underground, I turn off my computer and fall back into the "real world". In onionland, I observed the international drug trade, assiduously avoided the child exploiters, and listened with keen interest to emerging revolutionaries. As I blink my eyes and come back to the ordered world of domineering law, I sense that my relation to this world has profoundly shifted.

Later, as I walk the real streets of my neighborhood, a residue of the dérive sticks to my consciousness. That the shadownet exists, that there is a hidden, anonymous world easily accessible, works to re-enchant the tired commercialized reality that I had until now occupied. Psychically liberated for a moment, I taste the revolutionary potential of the digital dérive.

Micah White, micah (at) adbusters.org

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38 comments on the article “Dérive on the Shadownet”

Displaying 11 - 20 of 38

Page 2 of 4

Dorje

Adbusters needs to show us what the ideal, the true, mental environment feels like. How can we get back to what has been severed from us for so long? How will it come about? IT wont be just from convincing people with text and image. Straight from the source, tryptamine psychedelic indoles catalyze the consciousness of the spokesmonkeys...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3cJ6xVkLuk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TN1reb_Lzi8

http://www.amazon.com/Body-Electric-Electromagnetism-Foundation-Life/dp/0688069711/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1310537997&sr=8-1 Author is Canadian...

Maybe this is too radical for the nihilistic politico's? but really 10 years on, the wars wont stop... Next level realization, revolution of consciousness. The mental environment should be clean, should be clear like a flowing stream untainted by radiation and mercury. The psychic pollution we are innundated with shapes our minds, boils them in the cauldron of ignorance to forge them into the expected fear/desire modes prefered by our corporate overlords. Breaking this cycle requires radical methods.

http://www.amazon.com/DMT-Molecule-Revolutionary-Near-Death-Experiences/dp/0892819278/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310538235&sr=1-1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhEj314cmLw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKOO-VB_yts

Expand the format and expand the mental environment. The future is next.

Dorje

Adbusters needs to show us what the ideal, the true, mental environment feels like. How can we get back to what has been severed from us for so long? How will it come about? IT wont be just from convincing people with text and image. Straight from the source, tryptamine psychedelic indoles catalyze the consciousness of the spokesmonkeys...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3cJ6xVkLuk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TN1reb_Lzi8

http://www.amazon.com/Body-Electric-Electromagnetism-Foundation-Life/dp/0688069711/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1310537997&sr=8-1 Author is Canadian...

Maybe this is too radical for the nihilistic politico's? but really 10 years on, the wars wont stop... Next level realization, revolution of consciousness. The mental environment should be clean, should be clear like a flowing stream untainted by radiation and mercury. The psychic pollution we are innundated with shapes our minds, boils them in the cauldron of ignorance to forge them into the expected fear/desire modes prefered by our corporate overlords. Breaking this cycle requires radical methods.

http://www.amazon.com/DMT-Molecule-Revolutionary-Near-Death-Experiences/dp/0892819278/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310538235&sr=1-1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhEj314cmLw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKOO-VB_yts

Expand the format and expand the mental environment. The future is next.

Dks

Your post and l inks has just blown my mind...

thank you for sharing! Now lets Share some D.M.T!!
www.dksaxton.com

Dks

Your post and l inks has just blown my mind...

thank you for sharing! Now lets Share some D.M.T!!
www.dksaxton.com

Broski

Sorry, but taking drugs is NOT going to change anything, nor has it ever. Hedonism is not revolutionary. I'm not criticizing drug use or psychedelics; hell I spent a bit of time in the Amazon drinking ayahuasca myself. Incredibly interesting? You bet. Revolutionary? Hell no. I've met quite a few folks whose brains have been destroyed by psychedelics. Social change is the result of organization and hard work over years. A widespread change of consciousness follows. Don't put the cart before the horse.
So how do we create a large, global organization? Check out the Industrial Workers of the World. They got that shit on lock...

Broski

Sorry, but taking drugs is NOT going to change anything, nor has it ever. Hedonism is not revolutionary. I'm not criticizing drug use or psychedelics; hell I spent a bit of time in the Amazon drinking ayahuasca myself. Incredibly interesting? You bet. Revolutionary? Hell no. I've met quite a few folks whose brains have been destroyed by psychedelics. Social change is the result of organization and hard work over years. A widespread change of consciousness follows. Don't put the cart before the horse.
So how do we create a large, global organization? Check out the Industrial Workers of the World. They got that shit on lock...

Dorje

Piss over there *points to walls encasing your intellect. The same ones that make you a victim of marxist ideologies where you excise your rights as a sentient being and replace them with some industrial worker paradigm thats been outmoded for half a century. You play your role and act in accordance with your narrow stream of understanding, other live outside of time.

Dorje

Piss over there *points to walls encasing your intellect. The same ones that make you a victim of marxist ideologies where you excise your rights as a sentient being and replace them with some industrial worker paradigm thats been outmoded for half a century. You play your role and act in accordance with your narrow stream of understanding, other live outside of time.

Broski

Marxist? Hmm I'm shocked that someone so 'evolved' from tripping themselves into schizophrenia would make such broad assumptions! Hit the DMT pipe a few more times and maybe it will open your mind a bit more.
Why don't you lobby the UN for some sort of aid mission to Somalia to help the drought victims? But instead of food, water, and medicine, rescue workers can bring a shitload of mushrooms, DMT, and acid! After all, their problems aren't political/economic or environmental, but instead stem from their lack of spiritual advancement due to a scarcity of good drugs.
Your 'philosophy' is just a product of being a (most likely) middle class person living in a wealthy country.
Indeed, hard work and organizing have been the only things that have ever changed anything. Stop staring at your navel, plant your feet in the real world that exists (as opposed to your hippy dippy astral world fantasy land) and join some folks that are serious about social change.

Broski

Marxist? Hmm I'm shocked that someone so 'evolved' from tripping themselves into schizophrenia would make such broad assumptions! Hit the DMT pipe a few more times and maybe it will open your mind a bit more.
Why don't you lobby the UN for some sort of aid mission to Somalia to help the drought victims? But instead of food, water, and medicine, rescue workers can bring a shitload of mushrooms, DMT, and acid! After all, their problems aren't political/economic or environmental, but instead stem from their lack of spiritual advancement due to a scarcity of good drugs.
Your 'philosophy' is just a product of being a (most likely) middle class person living in a wealthy country.
Indeed, hard work and organizing have been the only things that have ever changed anything. Stop staring at your navel, plant your feet in the real world that exists (as opposed to your hippy dippy astral world fantasy land) and join some folks that are serious about social change.

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