Joshuah Bearman wrote an epic story about the rise and fall of the black market commerce site Silk Road. He dug deep to produce a fantastic, enthralling story. Here's what he told me about it:
This was a challenging story to write, because it was an ongoing federal investigation, with a pending trial, but I (rather luckily) managed to get inside both the Silk Road, the various law enforcement agencies trying to bring it down, and people close to Ross, to understand him more. It was always a good story, but as it unfurled just got more layered and exciting. The piece is 20,000 words! Longest thing Wired has ever published. And in two-parts, which they've never done. I wrote this thing like a non-fiction novella, and people seem to be responding to it well, even the cliffhanger and waiting for Part 2.
The Rise and Fall of Silk Road, Part 1
Image: Tomer Hanuka
[Video Link] HighExistence reports on Atlantis, a "new and improved virtual black market" that offers "cheaper rates, advanced features, ease-of-use, Litecoin and Bitcoin support, and encrypted chat."
A turf war is on. Silk Road has enjoyed a near monopoly on the digital drug business since its inception in 2011, but its tenure is over. The new competition is great for consumers–various black markets will vie for market share by offering more features and a better user experience. In an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit, the CEO explains that compared to Silk Road, Atlantis takes lower commissions, has less downtime, has a more “modern” interface, has a feedback system for rating buyers as well as sellers, and supports built-in message encryption.
Also, Andy Greenberg of Forbes bought weed from the top three online black markets (Silk Road, Black Market Reloaded, and Atlantis) and found Atlantis offered the best consumer experience. (Here's a video interview with Greenberg about online black markets.)
Atlantis, the new virtual drug marketplace
Okay, which of you all just got busted for smuggling narwhal tusks? Fess up. It was either one of you, somebody from Reddit, or both, right?
Image: N is for narwhal - finished, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from notahipster's photostream