Audrey Tang, Taiwan's amazing Minister for digital participation
Audrey Tang is one of the more extraordinary political appointments in the modern world: a young, transgender, self-described "anarchist" who is a Minister Without Portfolio, aiming to make Taiwan the most digitally consultative government in the world (her writings on Medium are here).
This May interview in the Taipei Times sets out her agenda for government - but Tang's history as an open-source programmer gives her huge credibility. On her ministerial appointment on October 1st, 2016, she said: "my existence is not to become a minister for a certain group, nor to broadcast government propaganda. Instead, it is to become a 'channel' to allow greater combinations of intelligence and strength to come together."
This 2016 article from Civic Hall shows the culture of hacker e-democracy that Tang comes from, and particularly her involvement in 2014's Sunflower Movement, in which students took over Parliament to protest against a trade deal with China. From Quartz: "Tang was involved in broadcasting the event from a live cam inside the building to the streets outside. This wasn’t a rebellious act, Tang said, instead the broadcasts “were intended to encourage people to talk, that’s all").
Tang's ambitions for Taiwan are properly radical. From this LA Times piece:
The digital minister wants to retool Taiwan’s sharing economy to emphasize a free exchange of resources across industries rather than just an expansion of app-enabled taxi and hotel services. The scheme should connect start-ups with investment funds that are “sitting on a lot of cash,” she said.
“My concept for the economy is one of abundance,” Tang said. “I’m aware of course there are scarce resources around the world, especially cognitive resources, but now that’s changing.”