To most, the dark web is a mysterious other, where tech-savvy criminals sell drugs, peddle illegal porn, buy guns, and organize terrorist attacks. A new Tor Hidden Services website, however, aims to challenge this assumption. The Torist is an online literary magazine that aims to make a serious point. As G.M.H., the anonymous co-founder of The Torist, told Wired,
“There’s no reason our innocent activities—creative or mundane—should be wiretapped, and there’s every reason they shouldn’t be.”
It is only possible to access website The Torist website via the Tor Network. By far the easiest way to do this is to download the Tor Browser, from inside which you visit thetoristinkirir4xj.onion web address.
The first Issue of The Torist is available as a 51-page PDF website (published January 2016) file from this website. It features fiction stories, poetry, and non-fiction articles, and a call has already been put out for submissions for Issue 2.
This publishing model is obviously not something that will appeal to the average internet user, but G.M.H. argues publishing on the web has a “cultish” appeal that harks back to “antiquarian” ways of discovering literature,
“It gets back to the time when you had to find The Evergreen Review in the stacks at the vintage bookstore.”
Cultish or not, The Torist Issue 1 appears to have been something of a surprise hit with dark web literary aficionados,
“We knew this project would cater to a niche audience. In fact, that was precisely the point: to create an artistic outlet for the growing communities of people interested in topics such as cryptography and anonymity, and to help these technologies realize their positive potential.
Nonetheless, we were taken aback by the breadth of its success. Major media outlets including Motherboard, Lit Hub, Deutschland Radio, and the Atlantic ran pieces on The Torist’s inaugural issue. William Gibson, author of Neuromancer, even retweeted an article about us—a cyberpunk’s dream come true.”
As G.M.H noted, publishing the magazine on the dark web is designed to make a point about how we are all entitled to privacy, and that simply because someone seeks to preserve their anonymity does not mean they are a criminal or have something to hide. Facebook, for example, has seen 1 million people access its website over Tor, and a recent report found that,
“Much of the dark web’s content is entirely legitimate, with only half of it containing content likely to be illegal under U.K. and U.S. law.”