The Deep Web
“Information wants to be free.” – Stewart Brand
I knew I shouldn’t have, but I did. I took the red pill. I sat there and watched the cars on the freeway, they barely moved. In that moment a decision was made. I was going into the Deep Webs. Who the fuck was I anyway? Once a young nonconformist who had no choice but to go his own way, to succeed on his own terms. Now just a tired protagonist holding up the constitution like a shabby homeless doomsday prophet on a dusty downtown street screaming into deaf ears. It was an old trick, writing about life like you’ve got an angle on it. I do it myself. I even admire my own piss while I’m pissing. Piss and writing are closest to our own. I was curious, hungry for a new frontier. Could this be the pirate enclave I was longing for (The Self-Licking Ice-Cream Cone)? I was bored, I didn’t even need the sales pitch, all I had to hear was ‘Deep Webs’ and I was in.
‘What the fuck are the Deep Webs anyway? ‘, you ask yourself. Ask the dust on the road. Ask the Joshua trees standing alone where the Mojave begins. Ask the revolutionaries and prophets. Ask the hackers and terrorists. Ask them about the Deep Webs, and they will whisper its name.
Simply put, the Deep Webs are all content on the internet that is not part of the ‘surface web’, which is indexed by standard search engines (google, etc…). The Deep Web is also called ‘Deepnet’, the ‘invisible Web’, ‘DarkNet’, ‘Undernet’, or the ‘hidden Web’. According to Wikipedia, in 2000, it was estimated that the Deep Web contained approximately 7,500 terabytes of data and 550 billion individual documents. Estimates based on extrapolations from a study done at University of California, Berkeley in the year 2000, speculate that the Deep Web consists of about 91,000 terabytes. By contrast, the surface Web (which is easily reached by search engines) is about 167 terabytes; Just to put things in perspective, the Library of Congress, in 1997, was estimated to have 3,000 terabytes.
So it is an extremely vast and mysterious place.
- Public information on the deep Web is currently 400 to 550 times larger than the commonly defined World Wide Web.
- More than 200,000 deep Web sites presently exist.
- Sixty of the largest deep-Web sites collectively contain about 750 terabytes of information — sufficient by themselves to exceed the size of the entire surface Web forty times.
- The Deep Web is the largest growing category of new information on the Internet.
- Deep Web sites tend to be narrower, with deeper content, than conventional surface sites.
- Total quality content of the deep Web is 1,000 to 2,000 times greater than that of the surface Web.
- Deep Web content is highly relevant to every information need, market, and domain.
- More than half of the deep Web content resides in topic-specific databases.
- A full ninety-five percent of the Deep Web is publicly accessible information — not subject to fees or subscriptions.
- The Deep Web is completely anonymous.
What crawls beneath the surface is a who’s who of hackers, scientists, drug dealers, astronomers, assassins, physicists, revolutionaries, government officials, police, feds, terrorists, perverts, data miners, kidnappers, sociologists, cultists, etc…
I was immediately reminded of the books of William Gibson. Cyberpunk. Cybernetics and punk, high tech and low life. A world navigated by marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society. The Deep Webs, a seedy and unregulated underworld where the console cowboys, like film noir detectives, interface with criminals, outcasts, visionaries, dissenters and misfits. The surface web appears, by contrast, a placid, sterile, flavorless, almost Orwellian dystopia run by mega-corporations and intrusive government agencies. The Deep Webs even has its own currency, totally anonymous, with its own exchange rate, which exists exclusively in that virtual space for completely anonymous transactions.
I believe in evil. Evil can do something exceptional. Now, accepted beauty only goes on stroking accepted beauty. “And here I am, I’m accepted beauty, I died on the cross two thousand years ago.” Accepted beauty is for the weak and cowardly, too timid to admit even to themselves what they really want lest they be ashamed for lack of possessing it. But evil, he can say, “Hey motherfucker, 8 ball in the side pocket.” And he’ll do it. I believe in what’s happening now. I studied history in college, but I detest history. I detest lies told as if they were truth. I believe in the wet-backs selling oranges at freeway off-ramps. I believe in the bums hustling pocket change at busy intersections. I believe in fists smashing faces, and boots kicking teeth. I believe in machine guns singing to the drum beat of mortar rounds crashing down in every direction. I don’t worship evil, at times I am even sickened by evil, but I believe in it.
That being said, bashful lovely boy that I am, I was drawn like a moth to the flame of the Deep Webs.
‘How do you get in? How do you access the Deep Webs?’ You question fearfully. It should be noted that it is impossible to be completely safe here. There are hackers, viruses, trojans, and every flavor of unsavory person. There are certain precautions that you better follow before you start exploring.
- Find an old laptop, format it down to nothing, then install a fresh copy of your favorite operating system on there and nothing else. I use an old Panasonic Toughbook with Windows XP (Service Pack 2) – it seemed a fitting choice.
- Download the Tor browsing software. Tor is a system intended to enable online anonymity. Tor client software routes Internet traffic through a worldwide volunteer network of servers in order to conceal a user’s location or usage from someone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis.
- Go to an anonymous internet location (Starbucks, Public Library, neighbor’s WiFi) and start up the Tor browser.
- You’re in.
‘Ok, well great, now what!?’ Don’t be an idiot. The screen is not going to show you flying through stars like hyperspace in Star Wars, cause Kelly LeBrock to walk out of your closet, or start World War 3. In fact the actual Deep Web is somewhat underwhelming. I harken back to my old junior-high dial-up BBS days of 2400 baud modems, reading the Anarchist’s Cookbook, and tapping phone lines with my trusty lineman’s handset. First of all the websites in the Deep Web are not very visual. They are more text driven than anything else. The information is not organized into nice, neat, categories – it’s hidden, and it’s hidden for a reason. The vast majority of information in the Deep Web is large, unindexed databases. The reason the Deep Web is like this is because only about 10 percent of what’s on the internet is generally/commercially interesting. Sure you could dig deep into the annals of the information superhighway but most if it is raw information. It’s not packaged and easily digestible like stumbleupon or tumblr. The Deep Websites purposely don’t get pinged by search engines so they are harder to find. The URL’s and addresses to these websites are completely random as well so there is absolutely no indexing tool that can be used to find any specific type of information.
In summary, most of the information in the Deep Web is immensely boring. It’s a private section of server space to share data off the record. At the same time it is dark and free. All that wiki leaks stuff that came out a few months ago? That’s been on Deep Web for years. Ever seen a movie and see the bad guy log into some weird looking private server? That’s all real. Generally, terrorist networks, spy agencies, drug dealers, assassins-for-hire, and those looking for child porn lurk around those parts. There’s a Hidden Wiki. Yep, even the Deep Webs has a Wiki. On it are categories of links. There are things like blogs, forums (from normal to revolutionary to blatantly illegal), Tor-enabled instant messaging and chat, anonymous file hosting, anonymous financing, anonymous tipping and information exchanges, information on computer security/anonymity, info on warez/cracks/hacking, links to underground fighting tournaments where combatants fight to the death, all the books, music, movies you can possibly imagine, even links to sports betting and trade information, international drug markets, prostitution rings, assassin markets, black market products, child pornography, some of society’s most deviant people use this network. There’s a dark eBay called ‘Silk Road’ where you can bid/buy on every drug under the sun – a black market drug trade for console cowboys. The place is habituated not just by those who browse the sites, but also by those who create and manage them… and it’s almost impossible to find any of the offenders.
In closing, I will say good luck, have fun, be safe, and don’t do anything illegal!