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In simplest form, a darknet is a non-commercial extranet that is private and/or password protected. Some darknets have become popular in recent years, and so are well known, yet others are only known by the professionals that use them.

The reasons for the privacy and security, can vary. The most common reason, is that the content is proprietary in some way, and requires some kind of tracking for those who access it. Some darknets are private and anonymous. Ones that require an account, though the account has no information about the owners real identity, except perhaps an IP address).

Darknets have been criticized as being havens for illegal and/or criminal activities. This may be true for some darkets, but it would be unfair to assign that judgement to every darknet.

There is some intrigue generated by mystery/sci-fi books that mention them. Such as William Gibson's Zero History

Library Darknets

OneFile - For searching published periodicals

Proquest (darknet) - For searching published periodicals