Hackathon inside Congress of Taiwan

“Congressthon” on August 27th, 2016, inside Congress of Taiwan.

On August 27th, Taiwan’s national legislature played host to the first hackathon within its walls, inside one of its main conference rooms, where legislators of the Education and Culture Committee would usually assemble. Congressthon, organized by Watchout, is only one among many hackathons in recent Taiwanese civic politics, but definitely the first to be endorsed and supported by the Legislative Yuan — the young democracy’s central legislature — and all of its four partisan caucuses. Around 50 people gathered in a Saturday morning to collectively take one more step towards a more open government. Showing good will and official support, the Director General of Department of Information of the Legislative Yuan was also present and her 30-minute Q&A session jumpstarted the event.

Director General Chang Mong-Yuan of Department of Information of the Legislative Yuan reports state of congressional open data and taking questions from the participants.

The participants of Congressthon mostly consisted of civic technologist, legislative assistants, journalists, and civic activists. In total, 9 projects were proposed, focusing on improvements to the legislature’s adoption of information technology in its daily operation, and its data transparency towards the public. Inspired by openparliament.ca, one of the proposed project saywhat wanted to create a searchable archive of legislators’ statements and voting record during committee meetings and the general assembly. hackact wanted to better showcase different versions of a proposed bill, inviting public comment, even to co-create a version of the bill written by the public. Light Up Taiwan, appropriating the campaign slogan of Taiwan’s President Tsai with humour, pulled participants’ understanding of congressional affair together to collectively answer and submit a questionnaire regarding Taiwan’s current status on congressional openness to the Legislative Openness Data Explorer.

“saywhat” project working on data crawling, interaction design, and front-end prototyping.
Legislative assistants and civic technologists making Legislators’ Calendar together.

Taking experience from g0v, Taiwan’s civic technology community, and one of the world’s largest, Congressthon uses Hackpad and hackfoldr to communicate and aggregate ideas among contributors. All of the proposed project chose to license their work under CC or CC0. Detailed record of the proceeding and projects are publicly available here. Comparing to a g0v hackathon, Congressthon was a smaller and more focused event to the theme of congressional openness. Though one can tell that this hackathon was a first-time for many of its participants, at the end of the day, it has shaped up to be a good bridge between the citizens and the government, and a solid initiating point for a multitude of collaboration to be continued.

The second half of Congressthon is scheduled to take place on September 3rd. Four forums will be conducted sequentially with the themes: Live-streaming and open congress; Building web platforms from congressional open data; Ready for my question, Congressperson?; Manga and politics.

This article, by @chihaoyo, crew member at Watchout &g0v contributor, is licensed under a CC-BY 4.0 International license.