Finding the Human in the Dark Forest: Perspective on user practices outside of social media platforms

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talkProfessional


This talk looks at user practices that resist dataification through the lens of the Dark Forest Metaphor. In this, my aim is to locate internet activity that defies the commodifying logics of mainstream social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Underneath the surface web exists a more complex space that defines itself in opposition to the cultural norms around authenticity and self-presentation that shape social media sites. This is a web that seeks to escape platform logics, and its cultural production cannot be understated. The anonymity it allows and encourages liberates the creative energies of its users, giving rise to a complex and multi-dimensional space that refuses to be commodified. In fact, most of the content that we consume on the surface web travels up from this underbelly. Drawing on artists Caroline Busta and media theorist Bogna Konior’s applications of the “Dark Forest” metaphor for this space, I elaborate on how user practices that take place outside of sites pre-fabricated to commodify our user experiences depict a more human, more creative, and more liberating way to use the web.
Period23 Jun 2021
Event titleThe Human in Digital Humanities
Event typeConference
LocationTilburg, NetherlandsShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • digital culture
  • dark forest
  • social media
  • user behaviour
  • platforms