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[Channel Channel, a network for VPN access] #14
Channel Channel is a project that involves around the basic usage, access and further social dynamics of VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network. It's a tool to extends a private network to external network environment to provide safe, private access. In practical reality the usage of this tool is embedded in complex situations, such as to circumvent state fire wall and bypass geographically restricted content.
This project adopts a DIY working attitude. The underlying technology is provided by PiVPN, an open source free software that runs on a Raspberry Pi. As the Pi is connected to a home network, it's able to provide VPN access.
I initiated this project as a response to my personal practical situation. As I live in the Netherlands, I travel back to China from time to time. The state fire wall blocks access to services such as Google, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. My mail service is dependent on Gmail, I do watch YouTube for occasional "guilty pleasure", not to mention the tutorial I followed on how to set up PiVPN is from a YouTuber. Aside from services that are not blocked by the firewall, access to content sometimes also can be slow, due to more distant network traffic route.
But, this project is not only about building access. It's also about questioning access. On the first day I connected my roommate in Beijing with VPN access, he was exhilarated, from being cut off from videos on YouTube for months. Few days later, he felt fed up with YouTube. This result motivates me to rethink about access - access is not only about providing plain infrastructural mobility, but also about fostering a collective discourse on what is means to receive access to restricted platforms and content hosted therein.
I am currently reaching out to develop a network of people to formulate richer discussions around the infrastructure. I spoke to people who live in China who had the need to for VPN access. I also would like to develop a network of access providers, who live out of China and have unrestricted access to internet, and are willing to "channel" a portion of their home network to others. To participate in Our Networks is an opportunity reach out to people and foster this network. I will also be interested in reaching to Chinese communities in Toronto, as many of them will be in similar situations as myself, or have families and friends who live without access and they may found willing to share access with.
As I am not able to personally come to Toronto, I am hoping to present my zine at the zine library. It will be produced in both English and Chinese.
The website channelchannel.site is under development.
Material and Technical Requirements
Name: Biyi Wen
Biyi Wen is an archiver living in Rotterdam. Currently enrolled in Experimental Publishing Masters course in Piet Zwart Institute.