Alberto Tafoya
Ameya Mhatre

everybody needs an outlet.


Classes Networked Objects,Sousveillance Culture,Sustainable Energy

Bearing no dependencies on the power or data infrastructure this project, known as 'outlet', is an autonomous device that aims to appropriate both virtual and physical spaces. Comprised of a wind-generator designed for urban deployment mated with a highly efficient portable web-server this device creates virtual 'islands' within urban environments. Hosting a public messaging interface, users who engage the system are encouraged to leave their thoughts, opinions, or any other form of written expression on the publicly available message board. The written entries are then vocalized by an internal speaker allowing those individuals in the physical space surrounding the portable server to passively participate in the mediated discussion. The anonymity and transparency of the entire process encourages participants to broadcast their opinions freely in public spaces. The untethered nature of this virtual experience explores the realms of free speech and the temporary autonomous zone.

Constrained only by the wireless protocol, this project aims to engage all internet users. In the case of a private node being configured, this project can more specifically target groups or individuals that wish to create a personal virtual space that can exist without any external dependence.

User Scenario
case 1: public access point.

The autonomous web-server will be configured for public access. The target user will be using their lap top computer in a public space, and will require the internet for a given reason. As they search the available wireless access points in the immediate area, they will be attracted to an unsecured access point with strong signal strength. Once the point has been accessed, they will attempt to browse the network as though it was the internet but will discover, due to a brief introductory splash page, that they have accessed a new type of virtual space. At this point the user will explore the contents of the space comprised of the documents, comments, and media left by other annonymonus users, or by contributing in their own personal way. The experience will always be anonymous.

case 2: private virtual space.

An organization that is attempting to mobilize a public demonstration would like to maintain an virtual presence in order to efficiently communicate with its members. However, the views of this group are not harmonious with the federal government, and the websites they create are often monitored or shut down. They decided to create their own private network using these autonomous web-servers. Spreading them across the rooftops of their urban setting, they create a private network unknown and free from any external infrastructure. The group is now free to communicate, share ideas, and inform each other in a truly free and transparent medium.

The wind turbine itself is made from PVC pipe. The kinetic energy conversion is made possible through the use of a small DC motor. This powers a battery recharge circuit that supplies a constant flow of energy to a small gumstix linux computer / web-server. The ideal site for this project (in physical space) will be on the rooftops of dense urban environments.