The Dark Forest Anthology of the Internet

My essay The Extended Internet Universe, where I coined the term “cozyweb” (probably in my top 5 most successful memes) is featured in this cute little collectible book, The Dark Forest Anthology of the Internet put together by Yancey Strickler (whom you may have heard of as the cofounder of Kickstarter). Yancey’s essay, The Dark Forest Theory of the Internet, which I referenced in mine, leads this collection.

Both our essays appeared in May 2019, and the idea of a Dark Forest internet has since become something of a meme, joined at the hip to the cozyweb meme. I recall writing my post (a side-quest of sorts from the domestic cozy series I was writing at the time), and coming across Yancey’s (which had appeared a few days earlier) just as I was about to hit ‘publish.’ I paused for like 15 seconds to reference it, since ‘Dark Forest’ seemed to exactly complement ‘cozyweb.’ Four years later Yancey reached out about this book. Serendipitous peanut-butter-and-jelly hyperlinking moment, which is ironically what made the old internet (RIP) so great. Then the damn Trisolarans arrived and ruined everything. The book features several other pieces by other contributors in what is essentially an extended eulogy for the old internet, and a grimdark celebration of the brave cowardly new internet 😬☠️, where we all cower fearfully in cozyweb holes, behind antimemetic fields, whispering softly so the Trisolarans don’t find us. In the grim darkness of the far future, there are only antimemes (can you tell I’m currently reading There is No Antimemetics Division? That book pairs beautifully with this one btw).

The publishing model is also unique, and uniquely cozy, published in small samizdat-type batches that can escape detection by Sophons. The book is published by Metalabel, Yancey’s new venture, which attempts to bring cozy indie-music-label vibes and anti-memetic defense shields to publishing. The first printing of this volume sold out within a week, so if you want a copy you should grab one while copies of this second printing last. It will be securely delivered via sneakernet dead drop, and self-destruct within 5 minutes of opening if it has been tampered with.

For the Poe’s Law types out there in the Dark Forest: that last bit was a joke. The book will be delivered by normal mail, which as far as we know hasn’t yet been compromised by Trisolarans.

The group of contributors now forms a metalabel artists’ collective and will publish more things under the Dark Forest label. I’m considering publishing my recent short story, The Dark Forest Marketing Agency, under the label. And maybe this post on cozy hypertext. We’ll see.

Yancey’s post Rethinking Labels has more details on this labels model, and he also did a Protocol Town Hall talk on the genesis of the model.

I’ll be participating in a book-launch round-table tomorrow (being held in an underground bunker at an undisclosed location), limited to verified book buyers who can prove they’re not Trisolaris spies. I’ll share that recording when it is published and it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, grab a copy, and be sure not to tell anyone about this book. And please burn this blog post after reading.

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About Venkatesh Rao

Venkat is the founder and editor-in-chief of ribbonfarm. Follow him on Twitter


  1. A wonderfully insightful and thought-provoking read.

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