AllThingsVice reports today that an anonymous group has started the Silk Road 2.0. They've even adopted the Dread Pirate Roberts moniker.
Last week, we talked to Adrian Chen about how Silk Road replacements are unlikely to ever be as popular as the Silk Road itself was. The Silk Road promised drug buyers and sellers a technological workaround to the fundamental problem of drugs being illegal. Instead, the alleged founder was arrested, along with many of the site's users.
As Chen pointed out, its still unclear whether Ross Ulbricht, who the government says ran the site, was caught because of his own mistakes or because the underlying technology that supposedly cloaked the Silk Road was broken. Without an answer to that question, it's hard to imagine Silk Road 2.0 being as popular as its predecessor. The myth of invulnerability that Silk Road offered is dead.
AllThingsVice says that Silk Road users think the relevant analogy here is Napster. To them, this is just the beginning of a long game of whack-a-mole:
The Silk Road faithful hope that this is a new beginning and proof that, as the closure of Napster did nothing to stop piracy, the closure of the single largest black market will be ineffective in the grand scheme of online narcotics sales.
That analogy seems very optimistic on the part of drug buyers. Shawn Fanning didn't have to worry about spending years in jail on drug charges. It's hard to imagine a future where buying illegal guns or heroin online has as small a social stigma as pirating a Metallica album did. Forbes' Kashmir Hill probably put it best: "I am shocked that they did not name it Honeypot."