The Dark Forest of the Web

The dark forest theory of the web points to the increasingly life-like but life-less state of being online. Most open and publicly available spaces on the web are overrun with bots, advertisers, trolls, data scrapers, clickbait, keyword-stuffing “content creators,” and algorithmically manipulated junk.

It's like a dark forest that seems eerily devoid of human life – all the living creatures are hidden beneath the ground or up in trees. If they reveal themselves, they risk being attacked by automated predators.

Humans who want to engage in informal, unoptimised, personal interactions have to hide in closed spaces like invite-only Slack channels, Discord groups, email newsletters, small-scale blogs, and digital gardens. Or make themselves illegible and algorithmically incoherent in public venues.

--Maggie Appleton, "The Expanding Dark Forest and Generative AI"

Love the reference to The Dark Forest theory w/r/t space and why we haven't found life yet. I'm wondering a lot recently whether the internet as we know it is about to make a major, major shift. Or, maybe there'll be a small band of indie web believers, and the rest of web-connected humanity will get sucked into the neverending vortex of content.

Tagged: technology, quote, links, open web,