The Potato Internet
Caroline Sinders (in collaboration with Trammell Hudson)
Finland / United Kingdom 2022 – 2023
Installation with potatoes, aluminium, wood, electronics
The Potato Internet is a small-scale, experimental social network that envisions the internet in times of climate emergency and global energy crisis. A common criticism of imagined alternatives to today’s toxic and extractivist online world comes down to this: ‘Great idea, but it doesn’t scale up.’ But what if the future of the internet is actually all about scaling down?
The small scale of The Potato Internet allows the artists to build a functioning social network from scratch. They have rethought every layer of the system, from hardware to protocols to governance in an ‘anti-upscaling’ network that suits a local context and endorses slow communication.
The artists used potatoes as a source of energy for the physical framework, and e-waste and other recycled materials for the interface. This piece draws on Sinders’ work on the Feminist Dataset for aspects of network governance, safety, equity and codes of conduct.
Please visit the project’s website potatoes.network/ to leave a message for the Potato Internet. Messages update every 24 hours. On this website you can also learn more about the project.
This work was realised within the framework of a European Media Art Platform residency program at m-cult with support from the Creative Europe Culture Programme of the European Union.
Caroline Sinders― Artist
Caroline Sinders is a machine-learning-design researcher and artist. For the past few years, she has been examining the intersections of technology’s impact on society, interface design, artificial intelligence, abuse, and politics in digital, conversational spaces. Sinders is the founder of Convocation Design + Research, an agency focusing on the intersections of machine learning, user research, designing for the public good, and solving difficult communication problems. As a designer and researcher, she has worked with Amnesty International, Intel, IBM Watson, the Wikimedia Foundation, and others. Sinders has held fellowships with the Harvard Kennedy School, the Mozilla Foundation, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Eyebeam, STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, and the International Center of Photography. Her work has been supported by the Ford Foundation, Omidyar Network, the Open Technology Fund and the Knight Foundation. Her work has been featured in the Tate Exchange in Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert Museum, MoMA PS1, LABoral, Ars Electronica, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Slate, Quartz, Wired, as well as others. Sinders holds a Master from New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.