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The Dark Forest and the Cozy Web

Last tended on May 02, 2020

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, and mentioned Yancey Strickler's companion idea of the Dark Forest

Loving both of these notions, I felt compelled to bring them together into an illustrated diagram of our current Social Internet Situation.


Layered diagram of the cozy web as a series of underground burrows beneath the dark forest

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.

The cozy web works on "(human) protocol of everybody cutting-and-pasting bits of text, images, URLs, and screenshots across live streams", hopefully one day evolving "from cut-and-paste to a personal blockchain of context-permissioned, addressable, searchable, interlinked clips" as Venkat puts it.

It's since become a standard part of the Venkat Vocabulary for fellow Ribbonfarmers and Yaks, and remains one of my favourite Neologisms of this year.

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Maggie Appleton © 2020