Many of you, like me, have taken to the streets more than once this year.
At the end of last year, a series of events caused considerable concern over the deterioration in the state of democracy in Taiwan. As a result, a group of friends who work in the IT industry founded a movement called “g0v.tw” — “0” as in “007.”
The goal of g0v is to improve information transparency in the government. Using modern technology, we aim to transform society and ensure that its citizens are both heard and seen.
To have a voice, we organized a large amount of data, wrote many lines of code and built websites, so that the public can gain a deeper understanding about various issues and become more willing to participate in such matters. Why do we want to stay in front of the computer all day, instead of going out and having fun?
Because we have had enough. Our government...
- ... tore down our homes and supported an army that murdered its own soldiers;
- ... spent a fortune to build a nuclear power plant that may explode the minute it is turned on;
- ... signed a major trade agreement in secret without revealing the negotiation process;
- ... held a joke of a public hearing and sang its own praises in advertisements produced using our tax dollars!
However, when a government is out of control, the fault lies in the citizens who are not keeping it in check. Isn’t it partially our responsibility to take care of this mess?
We decided to put a stop to the government’s incompetence. We decided that change is needed. As a result, we formed a group to gather and study government data, making up a civics class that hopefully is neither too little nor too late.
Before the advent of the Internet, it was easy for the government to deceive us and conceal the truth. Now we have many tools at our disposal to prevent the government’s brainwashing. Are we still going to accept the propaganda that is being spoon-fed to us by the government? We want to change this, and we now have the ability to do so.
We used to believe that democracy meant the right for the citizens to vote. However, now we know that democracy is more than casting a vote and shouting slogans at rallies and that justice is not charity given to us by politicians. The will of the people should be the country’s highest authority. Only by using concrete evidence to figure out where the problem lies and what the politicians have done can we make the right decision.
When information is insufficient, citizens often decide whom to vote for based on ambiguous impressions, biased Internet discussions and campaign advertisements. How is that different from flipping a coin or throwing dice? With more information available, we can change this.
“Citizen 1985” has opened our eyes, but what should we look at? The aim of g0v.tw is to provide facts and statistics for the citizens so they can learn to make more informed and rational decisions on their own.
People are hoping that the Internet can change the nature of politics. Little by little, we are doing just that, taking back the right to access information and express opinions for the people.
Can you imagine watching Legislative Yuan meetings on YouTube instead of the convoluted official website? Once on YouTube, everything the legislators do and say becomes a permanent part of the Internet, and the Legislative Yuan will not have the right to delete the recordings after three years, as it does now. In fact, this has already been accomplished by g0v.tw, as a small step toward information transparency. Only with total legislative transparency can the citizens keep an eye on the legislative assembly.
Budgets, laws and welfare policies are complicated and almost indecipherable by the general public. However, with information technology, we can make the official documents more accessible by using programs, images and articles. As a result, participating in public affairs will require less effort and time.
As for the news stations that broadcast propaganda, false information and product placements for ratings, we've made software that shows up whenever the news you are reading may be trying to mislead you.
If phones are being tapped, we have deployed countermeasures to encrypt our conversations. Wiretapping has no place in governing a nation!
Our goal is to change society through technology. Isn’t Taiwan already the “island of technology”? This is the perfect time for a new generation of citizens to participate in politics. We are not satisfied with the status quo. We want more, and we now have the ability to achieve more.
For many of us, our primary source of news is no longer the newspaper. We are the Internet generation, and we have a responsibility that is unique to us. We would like to invite all of you to ponder this challenge: How shall we efficiently consolidate people's opinions to reach a consensus in the information age?
In Europe, people have used the Internet to form a new kind of political power, resulting in a force that can alter the existing political landscape. Some minor political parties have even been able to achieve prominence in a few short years. We saw this happen in Italy and Germany. In Italy, the Five-Star Movement formed in 2009 was able to become the second-largest party in parliament through the Internet.
What should we do in Taiwan? The g0v.tw movement needs more collaborators, people who can spend a little time every day to produce tools to supervise the government and improve social consciousness. This is the civics class we offer for all of us. Next, we want to see how many citizens want to learn with us. We are doing this for ourselves, as well as for all of our friends on the street with us today.
We sincerely hope Taiwan's progress in democracy in the last 20 years has not been in vain. While we are disappointed with our country’s politics, our love for our country also means that we will never give up nor go away. All of us, who usually spend our days in front of computer screens, are here today for this very reason.
Confucius once said, “When we see people of worthy character, we should think of equaling them; when we see people of contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.” But why should we only examine ourselves instead of exposing those who are “of contrary character”? Back in Confucius' time, there was no Internet, and it was dangerous to express opinions freely. However, this is a different era, where we can and should tell the world when we see any individual or system that is corrupted, and we should continue to monitor the corruption!
Can 100,000 people on the Internet with the same conviction become a new political force to hold the government in check? Can they guide the political system to become more open, transparent, free, and truly citizen-centric? The answer lies in your hands.
Please join our revolution with your keyboard. Let’s transform our society using technology and ensure that all government information becomes transparent.
We are g0v.tw. 0, as in 007.
- Authors: ipa, clkao, audreyt, hcchien, ETBlue
- Collaborators: hychen, pofeng, 雨蒼, hlb, lijung, Michael_Li, mindos, kcwu
- Speaker: clkao
- Source: http://blog.g0v.tw/post/63652790833
- License: CC-By 3.0, g0v.tw contributors