Solar Protocol

A naturally intelligent network.

This website is hosted across a network of solar powered servers and is sent to you from whichever server is in the most sunshine.

Presently you are on a server called Solar-Power for Hackers that is located in Kiambu Road, Nairobi, Kenya.

Server Battery:
100.0%
SERVER INFORMATION
PLACE
City: Nairobi
Country: Kenya
Local time: 09:47 AM
Weather: n/a
Temp: n/a ° C
Feels like: n/a ° C
Sunrise: n/a
Sunset: n/a
ENERGY
Last update: 09:47 AM in TZ n/a
Battery Level: 100.0%
Battery Voltage: 14.36 volts
PV Power: 22.68 watts
PV Voltage: 18.88 volts
PV Current: 1.2 amps
Load Power: 1.72 watts
Load Voltage: 14.36 volts
Load Current: 0.12 amps
→ APPLY HERE BY DEC 4TH ←

Call for Projects and Texts

About Solar Protocol

Solar Protocol is an artwork in the form of a collaborative network of solar-powered web servers that collectively hosts this web platform. It is an experiment in community-run planetary-scale computing as well as functioning as a kind of virtual artist-run space.

Over the past 18 months, we have worked with collaborators around the world to set up custom solar-powered servers in different locations. Currently we have people stewarding servers in New York City and Philadelphia in the USA, Trent in Canada, Alice Springs in Australia, Santiago in Chile, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and Nairobi in Kenya. Connected as a network, the servers then host the Solar Protocol web platform and when a request is made for the site, it is served from whichever server is in the most sunshine, and therefore generating the most energy in the network.

We use the path of the sun and the weather conditions at each server location to program how the network operates. To put this another way, the system uses the environment to automate decisions and distribute computational work to wherever there is the most naturally occurring energy in the network. Decisions like where internet traffic is sent and what content is displayed on the site, are therefore automated according to an environmental logic derived from the season, the time of day and weather conditions across the network.

The project also responds to the growing energy demands of the cloud and online media by advocating for and exploring what low carbon internet infrastructure and user experience (UX) design could look like. Although work on this project is ongoing, as a fully realized implementation of a distributed, community-owned web hosting system, powered by renewables, it currently provides solar-powered web hosting for stewards, powering several websites including sites for the Low Carbon Research Methods group at Trent University, and the Extinction Rebellion Solarpunk Storytelling Showcase .

You can read more about the project on the website, in this paper we wrote for the LIMITS 2022 conference, or you can explore the solar data produced by each server that is made available through the project API.

What sort of projects and texts are we looking for?

We want to support online artworks or critical and creative texts exploring the themes of Solar Protocol for publication/exhibition on our platform in March of 2023. We are seeking proposals for new work, or proposals to show existing projects or texts that engage with one or more of the following themes:

  • Design and exploration with diverse forms of intelligence that go beyond existing forms of AI. The history of AI has been characterized by shifting definitions of what counts as intelligence, but that since the enlightenment been dominated by human and statistical and machine driven perspectives. What should count as intelligence? In Solar Protocol, decisions in infrastructure are automated according to environmental limits and logics rather than those derived from statistical models and historic datasets. The decision about which server to use to serve the website is made by the sun rather than by a model or by a human. So the environment itself is positioned as an intelligent agent. How else might environmental limits and logics be explored as intelligent?
  • Low Carbon cultural practices. How can we do cultural and artistic work in low carbon ways? What are aesthetic forms that explore data/energy limits provide productive and generative creative constraints. What tools could or should exist for low energy environments or to support low carbon work? What might a low carbon, low data or low energy social network look like?
  • The qualities of solar power. What are characteristics and politics of coupling technologies with the sun and solar-power? We are interested in philosophical, ethical and existential perspectives on intermittency, the cyclical nature (daily and annual) of solar energy and on time as a system of experiencing the rotation of the earth.
  • Energy-centered design. How do we move from UX to EX, or from user experience to energy experience? What does UX and web design look like when it is engaged with its energy use or energy sources. See our prompts for an energy centered design in this paper.
  • The care, labor and maintenance required to keep infrastructure working. Our servers often go down due to stewards needing to move house, connectivity issues, changes in ISPs, water leaks and so forth. What does it take to keep infrastructure working and servers online?
  • Planetary scale participatory practice. We are interested in reflections or experiments in networked collaboration, this could include connecting with or working with a server steward.
  • Politics of decentralized, DIY networks.
  • Projects must be html (+css and/or javascript) websites. They might respond to the energy data generated across the network that can be accessed via our API: http://solarprotocol.net/api/v2/

    To learn more, see our guides about developing projects for the Solar Protocol platform, or watch a recording of our Q and A session on Friday November 18th..

    What sort of support can we provide?

    We estimate we can provide the following support for several contributions in the following categories. These figures will vary depending on how many projects we publish.

    • $1000-1500 artist fee for the development of a new work
    • $200 exhibition fee for the exhibition of existing work
    • $1000 honorarium for a new text (2000-4000 words)
    • $200 honorarium for republishing an existing text.

    We will provide editorial support for texts and development support to implement the online artworks on the Solar Protocol platform.

    Timeline

    • November 18th, 12.30–1.30pm. Q&A with Solar Protocol team about the open call. See the recording here.
    • December 4th: Submissions due via the application form.
    • December 12th: Awardees announced.
    • February 3rd: Project delivery.
    • March 2023: Project launch.
    • Week of March 6th: Online launch event with all participants.

    Deliverables:

    • Attendance at kick off meeting
    • Mid-project check, either via Zoom or email in early January.
    • Attendance and presentation in final online launch event
    • If you are submitting an existing artwork, we will ask you to contribute a short text describing it, the rationale behind it or the process of its making. (250-400 words).

    * Note on becoming a server steward: At the moment we do not have the resources for new servers, but if you want to learn more about the process of becoming a steward, please see this guide on what is required.

    Thanks to Taeyoon Choi for providing feedback on this open call.

    This project is a work in progress, for occasional updates join our project newsletter.