The Low-Power Solar Internet

There’s a small trend of running web servers on solar power. For example, Low-Tech Magazine runs a solar-powered version of their site. Sun’s not out and the battery’s dead? Come back tomorrow. If unavailability isn’t an option, Solar Protocol is a CDN of solar-powered servers.

There’s another way to solve the problem of making content available while staying within hard power constraints: change the protocol. The web assumes the provider is always online whenever someone wants to access a document. On the other hand, email delivery is entirely asynchronous, making mailing lists a more-natural fit for distributing information when you and your readers are on different schedules. Of course, email is harder to access: if it’s not in your personal inbox, you have no way to get it. Halfway between the web and email is Usenet, a message board system with peer-to-peer synchronization; sadly, its time seems to have passed forever.