12 questions in advance of TICTeC

Hi Audrey,
As you’ve kindly agreed to be one of the keynote speakers at TICTeC, the Impacts of Civic Technology conference from mySociety, we’d love to ask you a few questions.
We’re very happy to do so on your platform so that as many people can access the answers as possible. :slight_smile: Once you’ve responded, we also intend to link from our blog.
We know 12 is a lot of questions, so in case you’re short of time, please feel free to pick as many as you would like to answer. Thank you!
1.The first question that springs to mind, when we in the West find out about the transformations that have been happening in Taiwan is: why haven’t we heard more about them? They really are so ground-breaking — do you have any idea why they might not have received more global coverage?
2. And the next question is, of course, how would we go about encouraging our own governments to follow in your footsteps? You visited the UK Parliament recently: what was your perception of how they are doing on the Open Government front?
3. TICTeC is all about quantifying the impact of civic technologies. Do you have systems in place that help you assess the effectiveness of the measures you put in place?
4. And on that subject: clearly, it’s early days yet, but have your implementations been an unqualified success? Is there anything you’ve tried, but then thought ‘actually, that’s not really working’?
5. What feedback have you had from citizens and the national press? Are they generally in favour of these reforms and innovations?
6. What proportion of the population has taken part in your crowd-sourcing projects? Do you worry about the elderly or less connected not being sufficiently represented in decision-making?
7. Of course, even in a democracy of feelings, there will still be some people who lose out, or see a decision that doesn’t go the way they wanted. Are you sensing more understanding from these people, since they’ve gone through the online debates process?
8. How stressful is it for a human being to hold themself up to constant public scrutiny? Transparency is of course a laudable aim, but might it sometimes be at the cost of a person’s own downtime or privacy?
9. A large proportion of Taiwanese politicians are Independents. Do you think party politics is now an outdated system?
10. Here in the UK and over in the US, we have seen a real tension between NGOs, government, and the populist citizen voice throughout 2016. How can digital technologies bridge the gap between citizen and state without simply reverting to irrelevant soundbite politics or Twitter trolling?
11. What is the importance of TICTeC? Why assess the impact of civic technologies?
12. Finally: what are your next steps? Are there any more big innovations you plan to introduce during your time in cabinet?

  1. There is reasonable regional coverage in Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. However, global awareness is limited by Taiwan’s restricted participation in multilateral organizations, as well as the relative lack of English material (somewhat ameliorated by recent advances in machine translation).
    2-1. While rules, playbooks and tools ( http://pdis.nat.gov.tw/#/how-we-work/tools ) are reusable, each government’s political context is unique, so I would encourage everyone to pave their own path instead.
    2-2. I have not stayed long enough to learn about UK’s progress — looking forward to learn more from mySociety folks in the future, perhaps when TICTeC comes to Asia. :slight_smile:
  2. Yes, there are quantitative engagement metrics and surveys, though they are mostly in Chinese — for example for the petition platform: http://tinyurl.com/tictec-qa-1
  3. For the past 100 days, our main contributions are proceeding well — providing an internal collaboration platform ( sandstorm.io ) for participation officers from every ministry; requiring all regulations and trade-related laws to be open for public discussion ( join.gov.tw ); as well as help codifying an open multistakeholder mechanism into the draft of Digital Communication Act.
  4. In Taiwan’s post-2014 political climate, mainstream press and citizens would never call for “less transparency”, so people mostly respond favorably — of course, there are calls for more accountability and more informed participation, for meaningful conversations to form around divisive issues.
  5. As a proponent of assistive civic tech, it is important that we seek diversity of opinion (not zero-sum voting) and each engagement venue opens up access for previously unavailable folks (not taking existing venues away) — See https://paper.dropbox.com/doc/e-Participation-for-Socially-Disadvantaged-People-Inclusion-and-diversity-in-Taipeis-Social-Housing-deliberation-process-2KWkcoOSJSZTngmLfAL5e for a write-up by LÜ Chia-Hua.
  1. Yes. Generally we come up with rough consensus that people can live with — as long as the procedure are transparent and accountable, we are seeing people who did not get what they initially demanded nevertheless help defending the result.
  2. Private meetings and on-the-record transcripts are fully compatible; note that we allow each participant to make corrections for ten days after the meeting: Principles for Handling Official Visits to Digital Minister, Audrey Tang
  3. In the cabinet there are more independents than members of any party, but in the parliament every party has more MPs than independents ( https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3A9th_Legislative_Yuan_Seat_Composition.svg ).
  4. We need to partner with (and become) media to make relevant facts as easy — and eventually easier — to spread.
  5. Informed discussions need to be rooted in evidence. If we are to build a global democratic network of feelings, we need to make sure that these feelings are reflective — this is only possible when they are built upon facts.
  6. For scalable listening to work, we need to engage people who prefer interactive & tangible understanding, including children. https://medium.com/@audrey.tang/virtual-reality-for-civic-deliberation-e114234828fe outlines the initial steps; https://medium.com/@audrey.tang/towards-plurality-9b806d8b88ef outlines the main vision.