The Script I Prepared for RxC in the Wild: Social Upgrades in Colorado and Taiwan Online Panel Event Last Month

Below is the script that I prepared for my 10-minute presentation at a recent RadicalxChange online panel event.

Organized by the RadicalxChange Foundation, the 1-hour event, “RadicalxChange in the Wild: Social Upgrades in Colorado and Taiwan,” held on Wednesday, August 26, featured moderator Marko-Luka Zubčić, and three speakers – Ben Henderson, who leads the QV adoption in Colorado state agencies; Kevin Owocki, co-founder and CEO of Gitcoin who led the recent Down Stimulus QF pilot in Boulder, Colorado, and I, introduced as the founder of the RxC chapter in Taipei.

The event wanted to shed light on the increasing experimentation and popularity of RxC concepts and philosophy in Colorado and Taiwan. Watch the livestream-ed event here.

It certainly felt like I was a terribly nervous speaker. I was probably the most stressed speaker among the four. I mean, talking about speaking alongside Kevin Owocki! The Kevin Owocki! How cool is that? I decided to write a script the night before the event in order to calm myself down. I’m taking some time to reflect on it right now and I have to say that I’m glad I did it. I enjoyed it a lot. I was taking my chances and it felt like I challenged my introverted self to do a lot more public speaking this year. It was a big deal. I think because public speaking doesn’t come naturally for me, it means that it would take two times more, three times more effort to really develop the skill. And I’d love to see that happen someday.

Event moderator Marko-Luka

Marko-Luka Zubčić will be the moderator. 克羅埃西亞主持人 Marko-Luka 里耶卡大學 University of Rijeka. Center for Advanced Studies South East Europe (University of Rijeka) Towards Open-source Institutions in Europe – The Rationale and the Method. The Center for Advanced Studies – South East Europe (University of Rijeka) is currently developing a project in collaboration with RadicalxChange Foundation, which will test and examine several variants of vTaiwan model for open-source governance in the context of European institutions.

開場

主持人 Marko-Luka 開場簡單介紹與會三個講者,接著邀請每個講者一人講 10 分鐘報告,三個人共 30 分鐘,大概會講到凌晨 00:35 Marko-Luka said: After my initial introduction to you and your work, we propose that the first part of the talk consists of your presentation of the relevant developments in Colorado and Taiwan. For this, we believe each speaker should have around 10 minutes.

Ben Henderson 科羅拉多州州長 Polis 辦公室

第一個講的人是科羅拉多州州長 Jared Polis 辦公室底下的 Ben Henderson, MPA Director of Operations and Cabinet Affairs。Ben 會講科羅拉多州應用平方投票的 projects “Quadratic Voting and its use in State Government”

Yahsin 雅信

第二個講的人是我,主持人會介紹我是激進改變台北社群的發起人 RadicalxChange Taipei chapter founder 以及 Diode 的行銷,並提及 Taipei Ethereum 台北以太坊社群成員。預計報告的時候會講到台灣每年四月左右舉辦的總統盃黑客松應用平方投票法票選出黑客松得獎者(近期發生的事)、去年八月推出的政治獻金資料公開線上平台(過去發生的事),最後帶到年底的台南 g0v Summit 大會活動(未來即將發生的事)。

Diode

Hello, I’m Yahsin. I’m happy to be here. And I’m delighted to see everyone here. I’m very exicted to be part of this conversation. So, a little introduction. I’m part of the team at Diode. A few words about Diode. It’s an American blockchain startup company founded by Hans Rempel and Dominic Letz about two years ago in 2018. We have offices in Taipei, Taiwan and Berlin, Germany. Diode is a blockchain designed for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Our vision is to see a thriving world wide network operating on fully decentralized infrastructure. We see ourselves as a key player in the Web3 ecosystem – making contributions to the Web 3.0 infrastructure.

RadicalxChange Taipei chapter

In addition to working at Diode, I’m also the founder of RadicalxChange Taipei chapter. We started in July last year. We were very fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know a number of leaders’ insights over the last year.

We had Taiwan’s digital minister Audrey Tang, RadicalxChange Foundation CEO Jennifer Lyn Morone, and Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin, also the Exodus blockchain phone makers coming to a co-working space in Taipei City at our very first meetup event in July last year.

And then afterwards, we had Dr Chang-Wu Chen, CC Liang, Peter Lai, Bitmark Hai-Ching Chang and lots of other folks, many of them coming from the Taipei Ethereum group, showed up at one of our events last year and also this year, to sort of keep the discussion and conversation going, keep the momentum going.

In June, at this year’s RadicalxChange conference event, RadicalxChange Taipei chapter collaborated with Bitmark to organize an online workshop. The workshop was called “Restoring Data Dignity in COVID-19: A Taiwanese Experience”.

Quadratic Voting in Taiwan’s presidential hackathon

So, today I’d like to share 2 stories that may be interesting and potentially inspiring to the Americans, Canadians, and maybe also to some of my friends in Europe.

I’d like to talk a bit about the implementation of Quadratic Voting in Taiwan’s Presidential Hackathon, and also share an example of how open-source developers and g0v civic tech community folks are using their skills to drive change.

A little bit about how the Taiwanese presidential hackathon used Quadratic Voting to vote on winning projects.

So, Taiwan’s Presidential Hackathon has been around for 3 years now. So, usually a hackathon could be a 2-day event or 3-day event. For example, ETHLondonUK was a 3-day event in February. ETHDenver hackathon was if I remember it correctly was also a 3-day event held at Sports Castle in February in Denver.

But for the presidential hackathon it was 3 months. More than 100 people would propose project ideas every year.

In the months of April, May and June, so about 3 months of time the Taiwanese government runs this special hackathon event. The idea is to bring programmers together for a cause.

How it works is instead of giving out a ton of prize money, the winning teams receive a promise from the government, so essentially a promise from President Tsai Ing-wen, that the government will be making their ideas into a reality.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen would listen to the pitches and the presentations of these selected proposals and for the winning teams, there’s going to be a picture of the team and President Tsai Ing-wen, a picture of the president handing the trophy to the team and promise whatever you prototype in the three months, she is committed to make it into part of the national policies in the next 12 months.

Last year and also this year, the second and third edition of the Presidential Hackathon, the Quadratic Voting (QV) system was adopted to vote on which projects that would make the most impact to the society and deserve the recognition. The adoption of Quadratic Voting was incredibly successful because it made the voting results for proposals and all of these cool project ideas to be more in line with the needs of the public.

Allocate 99 points for each voter

So before adopting Quadratic Voting, the way it worked was we would have 10 judges to select 20 teams out of 100 teams. However, this obviously has a problem because the selection would reflect the judges’ personal preferences.

But this time, the adoption of Quadratic Voting means that we open up 30% of the entire scoring mechanism to people who have text and email authentication to allocate 99 points. So 99 voice credits for each voter.

It’s 99 rather than 100 points — as in Colorado — because then people won’t even have the possibility of just going there and voting everything on the same project.

After voting for 9 votes which sent 81 points, you still have 18 points left. So that makes people want to look for other projects to spend the rest of the points.

I’m not a developer but I’ve worked with a lot of developers and engineers for quite some time. It was really great to see all of these interesting ideas turn into reality and like how my perspectives changed because of it.

I used to think that government is very slow to response, slow to change, but leaders like Audrey Tang has a unique perspective, really showed up, showed up on Github, showed up at all of these civic hacking events and really led by example, showed a large group of young develeopers in Taiwan how they can collaborate with government agencies and deliver real change.

I like the Taiwan’s Presidential Hackathons so much, I can’t stop talking about it because it shows me possibilities, endless posibilities. It’s where people are able to pitch ideas and co-create solutions within the institutions, within the cabinet settings, something that wasn’t possible before, something that was difficult to achieve before, and that really blew my mind, and I think it’s part of the reasons that I admire our Digital Minister so much, and why I admire g0v community so much.

My understanding is the Colorado state legislature in the US had also used QV to vote on their budget priorities.

Political donation records

A few notes: In 2014, people demanded to know who were donating funds behind to our politicians. Running political campaigns costs a lot of money and the politicians would need lots of sponsors. But politicians also speak for or protect their sponsors’ interests.

Another story that I’d like to share today is about political donations and political campaign finance data being made public online example.

This story I think it’s been covered a lot in Mandarin local news media but maybe not so much in English language media. I think this particularly interesting example is being underreported.

This was back in 2014 when political candidates and politicians had to submit political donation records to Taiwan’s Control Yuan.

Interestingly, the data kept by the Control Yuan was not easily obtainable, the information was not generally obtainable somehow. They cliamed that they wanted to protect the privacy of the candidates.

This made no sense of course. At the time only Taiwanese individuals who are 20 years old or older can visit the Control Yuan in Taipei City and make an inquery in person, request to make a print copy of the records.

So that was what the g0v civic hackers did. A group of people actaully made the trip to the Control Yuan and printed out the donation records. One page at a time, one page at a time. After collecting the data, the next step was to sort it out and manage it.

Those papers are filled with tables with each row shows the names of the candidates, how much money they’ve received, when did they receive it, and more importantly who are the people giving them the money.

Once you’ve got the print copies of the donation records, you have to scan it and turn it into an image data. At this point the challenge was the texts were not so machine readable, meaning advanced computer vision technology wasn’t able to parse all the texts and Mandarin Chinese characters from the tables.

But they were good enough to slice and dice the tables into cells. So what these civic developers did was they decided to collaborate and build a crowd-source website in order to better display the images of the cells for people to key in the texts.

So we had the raw data of the donation records. We had the raw data of the political campaign finance. There were a lot more developers became invovled in the project and pressed on for better data visualizations, also data journalism for people to better understand the insights behind those data, and understand how our political candidates are being funded.

The result was within 24 hours, over 10,000 people completed some three hundred thoudsand data entries 309,666 data entries from 2,647 documents. The government started to amend the Political Donations Act in 2014. A new act was finally implemented in June 2018. The new act was about making the political campaign finanace data publicly availble online.

I think this is a perfect example of how g0v folks built an online system from scratch and made Taiwan’s Control Yuan’s political donation records publicly available. Ronny Wang 王向榮 and Hsin-Chan Chien 簡信昌 are some of the leaders behind this political donation data project.

What we get right now is an online system that make the data available and searchable, and eventually increase the level of data transparency as well as accountability that people desire.

The online system was finally officially launched in August last year in 2019. At the time, it made the political donation accounting reports of candidates in the “nine-in-one elections” held in 2018 publicly available online.

And those reports, a total of 2,241 in number, including city mayoral candidates, and county and city council candidates.

The website allows people to type in key words or use the advanced search function to find the data on specific political parties, groups, candidates, donators, etc. It also allows you to search by election and download the entire files for each of the election districts and candidates for a specific election for comparative research and analysis.

There’s a highly anticipated open data, open government, open source conference event “g0v Summit” that is happening in December in Tainan, a large city in Southern part of Taiwan.

Leaders’ involvement in g0v

Leaders’ involvement in g0v – pronounced ‘gov zero’ – was one of the keys to develop institutional innovations. People ask me what is happening in Taiwan? There are a lot of civic hackers, open-source developers in Taiwan. How do you attract them to collaborate and contribute?

I think the sort of grass-root, open-source enthusatics, a strong devleoper community such as g0v is critical in this aspect. It’s playing an important role in calling out all these talented makers and hackers who believe in the power of technology to deliver change.

Leaders like Audrey Tang, clkao 高嘉良, Billy Lin 林雨蒼, Ronny Wang 王向榮, and Hsin-Chan Chien 簡信昌 their involvement in civic tech groups are critical.

g0v is a non-profit organization led by many leaders who are professional developers. The key is to create the kind of culture that would attract open-source programmers, project managers, and people who really believed in the power of open source. So I think this is part of the reasons why g0v is so unique and so successful. It is because it’s successfully created the Nobody culture – 你就是沒有人 The “Nobody” Movement

It was founded in 2012. In 2013 I participated COSCUP, Taiwan’s biggest open source conference event for the first time, and g0v was something that just starting out and gainning momentum and I was intrigued by it. I was intrigued by the idea of open source software development and I was lucky that some of the senior engineers at the time point me to read some of the most important and influential materials to learn more about open source culture and a bit of history behind. Books like the Cathedral and the Bazaar talking about Linux and Open Source.

g0v is a Taiwan-based civic tech community that’s been around for 8 years. It has created this “nobody” philosophy mobilizes thousands of civic hackers in the movement towards a digital democracy. Being a Nobody is to act. And that politics is no longer only a politician’s game, and it encourages everyone’s participation. “Don’t ask why nobody is doing this. You are the NOBODY (meiyouren 沒有人)“ NOBODY is diverse and inclusive.

How do they take action? Everything starts from Hacking! Host monthly hackathons. Project list, pitch, brainstorms, social issues. g0v, one of the world’s biggest civic tech communities, has had significant cultural impact and political influence since its foundation in 2012. Its “nobody” philosophy—“Don’t ask why nobody is doing this. Admit you are the NOBODY”—has attracted active citizens from all walks of life, including the famous Audrey, to join hacking for an open government.

Reference talk The “Nobody” Movement: Inside Taiwan’s Digital Democracy - Mei-chun Lee, Avital Balwit - RxC 2020 on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqZ8N9j0M-k Code for change, program to see real change 寫程式改變社會 code to drive real social innovations.

Gitcoin 創辦人 Kevin Owocki

第三個講的人是 Gitcoin 創辦人 Kevin Owocki。QF being used to provide economic relief in downtown Boulder,科羅拉多州的 Boulder 波德市中心經濟紓困應用平方募資,一個叫做 「the Downtown Stimulus」的 project“Downtown Stimulus Program Review” ,以及 Gitcoin Grants 的總部設立在科羅拉多州 Colorado headquartered Gitcoin Grants。

Q&A

凌晨 00:35-00:45 針對問題討論,接著邀請觀眾現場Q&A,可能到 00:55 最後接總結結束。The second part of the talk would be more conversational. Aside from the questions that arise during your presentations and in the course of the discussion, some questions I might ask are:

1) Which challenges did you encounter in developing these institutional innovations?
2) What advice would you give to others who would like to introduce these innovations in their local or national governance procedures?
3) What do you believe is relevant (in terms of institutional or social conditions) for these innovations to persist long-term as a part of the institutional structure?
4) Are there benefits to these innovations which you didn’t expect?

針對台灣有可能會問的問題:Can Taiwan’s model be duplicated elsewhere? Or is it specific to Taiwan’s unique history and culture?