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It’s no secret that our current internet is broken. Well, not broken, but it’s not safe or usable for large parts of the world, and for many communities including the disabled, BIPOC, femme, trans, and any marginalized person. This page is a work in progress . Over time, we’ll add more and more to it. Our goal with Potato Internet is to center sustainability, solar punk, feminism, intersectionality and digital rights to illustrate: what could a feminist, intersectional, and sustainable social network be?

A N T I S C A L E over S C A L E

C O M M U N I T Y instead of C O R P O R A T I O N

E Q U I T A B L E instead of I N D I V I D U A L I S T I C

C O N S E T instead of C A P I T A L I S M

P R I V A C Y instead of S U R V E I L L A N C E  

What are feminist methods of content moderation?

Our current is currently unfolding and evolving. This page will be added to as this project continues.

At present, (20/9/2023) we think it’s:

Who we are inspired by:

We need to rethink social media- allowing for sustainability, including climate change- and rethinking why systems are made to be so large– why can't we make small networks? Why are we building encyclopedias when we could also be making zines? That’s a metaphor- why do we build things only with the idea in mind it has to be for hundreds of millions of people– I'm interested in building things that work for smaller, localized communities- perhaps it's the wikimedian, open source contributor  in me.  What if things were slower? More intentional? What would you say or type if it took 24 hours to appear and it only existed for 24 hours? How would our relationships to technology change if we had to physically care and repair the technology? If it existed in our homes or community centers?)

Potato Internet is an experimental small-scale social network reimagining the internet in times of climate emergency and the global energy crisis- it’s a handmade network that uses recycled e-waste, and organic non-extractive materials as a part of the hardware. It’s literally made out of potatoes. In October 2022, my collaborator Trammel Hudson and I started imagining small networks, in response to the climate crisis and in response to Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter. What does it mean to make something knowing that scaling up is not the outcome. Trammel and I are both from Louisiana, and we currently live in Europe but climate change is at the forefront of our minds- and so is accessible, visible, human powered technology.

Our goal was to rethink material usage– how and when we can use organic, non extractive materials whenever possible in technology systems. The components are: potatoes which use galvanized nails and copper nails to help power the recycled e-ink displays we’ve sourced from grocery stores from Shenzhen, China. We built this lowfi website, our attempt to use the least about of energy as possible–so each attendee of Potato Internet can leave a message that I, the current content moderator, wil approve. And it’ll appear about later on- either in 24 hours or even in a week, depending upon the queue of messages. After 30 days, all messages in the queue are deleted. It’s an un-permanent, slow network.

This project is about rethinking and literally rebuilding how we make and interact with technology? How do we care for and maintain, and sustain technology and social networks? I know it’s not entirely possible but this is where speculative design is helpful– what if, whenever we could, we used more compostable, decayable, recyclable and sustainable materials? What if society were built around that kind of maintenance? How would our own societal footprint shift? How does my relationship to technology change when it’s in my own backyard or I'm responsible for helping power it? How would i use instagram, or email differently if i was a part of what actually powered it? )

I’m interested in: how do we change our relationships to tech to allow for more collective ownership and agency?  I don’t think all systems can be a potato internet- but I’m interested in what parts of systems or products can be.

—- Caroline Sinders