Let’s Stop Calling Taiwan a “Digital Democracy” (And Start Telling Better Digital Stories)

Written by Sam Robbins. This is what is at stake with how we tell digital stories: If we focus only on the tech itself and its impressive uses, we risk leaving most citizens feeling like they have no voice on the matter due to a lack of expertise. When we tell stories of civil society collaboration, of how governments are interacting with citizens, and of policies whose ramifications are much greater than the new data they create, we can start to create a space for greater public participation on these subjects.

The “Fruits” of Open Source: The Story of Open Hack Farm 

Written by Sam Robbins. As alternative food movements continue to develop and food politics has risen higher on the political agenda in Taiwan, there is perhaps still more opportunities for growth and collaboration between those concerned with the future of how food is produced in Taiwan. For Chen, the primary concern is still sustainability and environmentally sensitive agriculture. Open data and open technology is just a means to the broader end of preparing Taiwan for an increasingly unstable climate future. 

Hackers Facing the Ocean: g0v and East Asian Civic Tech Community

Written by Sam Robbins. Collaboration within Taiwan or transnationally has never been perfect. Like all g0v projects, international exchange is permanently a work in progress, and much more can be achieved by “rough consensus” than by looking for a particular shared interest. The boundaries of this inchoate transnational activist community are still being drawn, and the meaning of collaboration based on cultural and political similarities is still up for debate. For example, the 2020 Meet and Hack made explicit references to the “Milk Tea Alliance” in the posters on display, and I overheard many mentioning the concept.

Fun Politics and the Politics of Fun in Taiwan’s g0v Community

Written by Sam Robbins. The notion that emotions can inspire political action is not new. Research into social movements contains many examples of the motivating power of passion, anger, and disgust… What is seemingly much less common is the active cultivation of positive emotions, such as happiness or fun, in such social movements. If you’re feeling content about your situation, what need is there to engage in collective action or civil engagement?

The Memeification of Chen Shih-chung

Written by Sam Robbins. Currently, if you visit the Department of Sociology at National Taiwan University, you will be greeted by a cartoon cut out of Taiwan’s Minister of Health and Welfare, Chen Shih-chung (陳時中). The Cartoon tells you to use your card to buzz in and to get your temperature checked. If you are a user of popular social messaging app Line, you can now download a package of cartoon stickers of Chen accompanied with messages like, “stand together and defeat the virus” (團結對抗,戰勝病毒).

Taiwan’s push for media literacy- is it all “fake news”?

Written by Sam Robbins. Across the globe, more and more countries have introduced media literacy education into their national curriculum in a hope to make students better prepared for the digital media landscape. Although media literacy is much older than the internet, digital literacy has become inseparable from media literacy over the last 10 years or so. It is over this period that media literacy has also began to receive new attention.

Disease in the Digital Era – is Taiwan in the midst of an “infodemic”?

Written by Sam Robbins. The coronavirus has become a hot topic of conversation on Taiwan’s popular social networking site, D-cart. This has become a space for (primarily university students) to share or ask for relevant information about the disease, but also to share their fears and difficulties that have resulted from the virus. A recurring theme on the discussion board are stories from international students—for example, from Hong Kong—who are not sure of their ability to return to study in Taiwan.

Why are Taiwanese Politicians Collaborating with Youtubers?

Written by Sam Robbins. Taiwanese politics has been digital as long as it has been democratic. Taiwan’s first direct presidential election in 1996 was hotly debated on popular BBS systems of the time. More recent elections have been fought on blogs, PTT, facebook and elsewhere. Taiwanese politicians have always been looking for new methods to connect with voters and make themselves visible in an ever-changing digital landscape.