The Dark Forest and the Cozy Web, by Maggie Appleton, February 8, 2020

Maggie Appleton’s illustration of this term is amazing - visit her article to check it out.

The cozy web  is Venkatesh Rao’s term for the private, gatekeeper-bounded spaces of the internet we have all retreated to over the last few years.

Venkat first proposed the term in one of his Breaking Smart emails on The Extended Internet Universe. He builds off Yancey Strickler's companion idea of the Dark Forest theory of the web. The “dark forest” is a place that seems eerily quiet and devoid of life. All the living creatures within it are hiding. Because “night is when the predators come out. To survive, the animals stay silent.”

The predators here are the advertisers, tracking bots, clickbait creators, attention-hungry influencers, reply guys, and trolls. It's unsafe to reveal yourself to them in any authentic way. So we retreat into private spaces. We hide in the cozy web.

Private / members only areas that mostly look like chats or private forums:

We create tiny underground burrows of Slack channels, Whatsapp groups, Discord chats, and Telegram streams that offer shelter and respite from the aggressively public nature of Facebook, Twitter, and every recruiter looking to connect on LinkedIn.

It's the digital realm of Domestic Cozy Gen-Z vibes. Casual, comfy, and not trying to kick up a fuss.

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