The digital site Silk Road is the drug store for those who don't want to mess with street dudes for illegal substances. They also have be technically savvy and patient. In addition, to conduct a transaction they have to purchase digital money known as Bitcoins. Of course, all this is just sitting there online for DEA folks to bust. What a reputation they can make for themselves by posing as sellers or buyers, then intercepting the parcel delivered through the mail.
As Adrian Chen describes Silk Road in Gawker, part of its seductive ethos is its technical complexity. Those doing business have to go off to a special galaxy on the web, space where us regulars don't even know about. Another grabber is customer satisfaction. Unlike street drugs, whose quality fluctuates wildly [Janis Joplin died from purchasing higher-than-usual grade heroin], these drugs are as advertised.
However, we wonder how smart people can continue selling and buying when there are so many tales of undercover everyone on the web attempting to ferret out miscreants. You don't catch me answering ads on Craigslist for those "talented in creating explicit adult fiction." A former neighbor of mine is a federal prison in New Jersey for responding to a similar kind of ad.
Could the business continue briskly because we all hunger for an underground fellowship? Long after one of those anonymous 12-step programs served my purpose, I continued to attend. Since there were so many emotional messes at the meetings, mirror neurons were likely transmitting some very bad stuff. But I needed to be part of something secret.
Prediction: Silk Road will be shut down sooner than later.