Solar Protocol

Anne Pasek, Trent University; Tega Brain, New York University; Alex Nathanson, New York University; Benedetta Piantella, NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Toronto 2021: Multispecies

Solar Protocol is a growing, experimental network of solar-powered servers installed at different locations around the world. Servers are hosted and maintained by volunteer stewards, who may also host and publish local content on their installation. Unlike conventional network protocols, which typically route traffic to the most geographically proximate server, when a request to the Solar Protocol website is made, traffic is directed to whichever server is enjoying the most sunlight at that moment. This allows the network to accommodate daily and seasonal intermittency; as the sun rises and sets, each server may turn on or off without compromising the functionality of the network as a whole (though local content may become unavailable). This in turn has provoked discussions about the desirability of intermittent access and minimal computing in several contexts, suggesting that a more energy and weather-dependent Internet could afford valuable opportunities for environmental awareness, digital privacy, and personal rest. The project is thus an exploration in both grassroots digital infrastructures as well as computing that operates within planetary limitations and green energy logics.

Digital infrastructure, renewable energy, network protocols, critical making

For 4S, we invite you to visit the Solar Protocol website, check out the Solar-Powered Media zine, and add your thoughts about the Internet, the sun, and intermitancy to our Mural/Guestbook. We will be present and boothing during the Making & Doing session on Oct 7th, but also welcome your asynchronous interest and feedback.

Published: 01/30/2023