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The deep web — and the underground internet culture orbiting around anonymising services like Tor — now has its own biannual literary journal.
We live in an age where societies must increasingly negotiate a balance between privacy and security. Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden have exposed mass government surveillance programmes, while governments (including our own) mount new arguments for the right to legally monitor citizens' online behaviour in efforts to curb extremism, piracy and other crime.
Meanwhile, at the fringes of mainstream internet culture, open-source digital anonymity tools such as Tor are booming, though its implications are in constant debate. Some regard such tools as a boon for cybercrime and shady commerce (see: Silk Road), while for others, Tor and its ilk are essential tools for protecting whistleblowers, informants, activists and other sources who wish to communicate with the press — or share sensitive material. There's a clearer benefit for users in countries (such as China), where internet services are carefully and actively restricted.
Enter The Torist: a 'new literary journal hosted on Tor ... [aiming] to foster cooperation between technical and humanities-based communities'. In an editorial statement released earlier this month, the journal promises to explore the implications of electronic communication on communities — with a focus on fostering 'a greater awareness of technologies designed to make excessive data-gathering impossible' through submissions of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, reviews and artwork.
The journal, which aims to run its first issue mid-August, will be published on both the regular, mainstream internet and as a Tor hidden service.
By now, a couple of points should be obvious: writers won't be paid and readers won't be charged, and they'll be free to write under any (or no) name at all.
There's a caveat on pseudonyms, though; they shouldn't be 'exceptionally tasteless'.