Event Report : g0v Summit 2018 — Taipei

Gov zero summit is a decentralized, grass-roots civic tech community based in Taiwan. Built on the spirits of open source and activism, g0v aims to use technology in the interest of the public good, advocate information transparency and build tech solutions to promote civic engagement. I was lucky my talk got selected and got an opportunity to speak at the event.

It was raining when I reached Taoyuan airport, but I was excited to attend the speaker's dinner and any amount of rain wasn’t going to stop me. While using google maps, I misunderstood the logo of the bus for MRT and ended up in a vortex of platforms. I was already late when I reached but the party was still alive and people were still drinking beer in cute little cups in which we drink tea in India lol. Unfortunately I missed the group photo session but I had good conversations with people from g0v summit and the speakers.

I was really amazed at the discipline Taiwanese people have towards traffic rules and standing in queue at MRT stations. Throughout my trip in Taiwan I didn’t hear any car honk at each other and people jaywalking. I was getting late for the speakers dinner and the traffic light was red on both sides when I jaywalked out of habit. While crossing the road, the people looked at me in horror as if Bigfoot came from the Himalayas and is jaywalking in Taiwan . I was tempted many times to jaywalk but the people and the environment calmed the big foot inside me and made me more civilized.

Day 1.

The staff at the welcome desk greeted me with a welcome kit and speakers badge once you show them your Opass. I went inside the speakers lounge to greet all the speakers and kick off the day with positive energy.

Anasuya Sengupta is co-founder and co-director of Whose Knowledge?.
Her talk on the internet not being designed for us by us and most online public knowledge like wikipedia doesn’t include the range and depth of our histories and knowledges. It was interesting to know that the 75% of the internet users today are from global south Asia, Africa, Middle East.

This somehow connected with me, because Tibetan’s have suffered similar fate in 2011. Tibet history page in Wikipedia was edited multiple times anonymous and anyone who has never heard of Tibet could believe that Tibet was part of China. I felt Tibetans have so much to preserve , share and mediums such as wikipedia played a very important role in preserving our culture.

I was talking to my friend xiaoban about Taiwanese culture and she told me that Taiwanese people would do anything for good food. I was convinced later when I had lunch during the break, how much effort they had put in preparing varieties for lunch. The lunch was really good and the litchi juice was the highlight of g0v summit. It got sold out so fast.

Day 2

The weather was sunny and since my talk was in the afternoon I took some time in the morning to walk from Nangang station to Academia Sinica. The 30 minute walk to the event turned into 3 hours of exploring the beautiful city. My talk was 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of Q&A. I began talking about Tibetan community in exile and the targeted threats we have been receiving since Ghostnet in 2009 and sharing my experience on how one can use open source tool in building resilience against such attacks. There was pin drop silence in the room and people were paying close attention to the screen and what I am saying.

For a moment I thought if they were actually understanding what I am saying. I paused for a while and noticed the translation team speaking into the mike with cool hand gestures .
Image: flickr.com/photos/g0v/

Few people came after my session to talk on how to get started with opensource and in what ways they can integrate it in civic societies. I was more than happy to introduce Fedora, its community in Taiwan and digital security practices.

Cyber-security and targeted attack is a very sensitive and rising issue in Taiwan. I had the opportunity to be interviewed by four different news media after my talk about open source and the targeted attacks Tibetan community have been receiving. You can read more in the following link.

Speakers Dinner reception was held at Sunrise all day dining courtyard and I had the opportunity to try Taiwanese cuisine and engage in amazing conversations with Chihao, xiaoban, Mg lee, Silva shih. One of the g0v summit member went to harvard with our president Lobsang Sangay. She was so happy to see me and she pointed out all the good stuffs to eat at the dinner table. 
We talked about how the Tibetan people share many similarities with Taiwanese people in terms of culture, religion and using technologies to defend from targeted attacks for CSO’s. I bonded very quick with these people and sharing stories of Tibet, the exile Tibetan government, Fedora Community in India and Taiwan.

Image: flickr.com/photos/g0v/

Day 3

It was the last day so I came as early as I could to the event. I spend the day talking and exchanging contacts and ideas with people I have bonded over the summit. I have brought some gifts to event organizer’s and to Lulu and Mg lee. These two ladies did so much for me to get visa. It was not an easy road to get visa in a very limited time and I am forever grateful for their effort in bringing me to Taiwan and talk on Tibetan community.

Code for Japan

In this session, Hal from Code for Japan explains details of two unique projects for corporations and governments. One is a kind of fellowship program but asks companies to send their employees for serving local governments as a part-time government officials. Second is Data Academy, a series of workshop for improving data utilization of the local government officials.

“start with people, not with tech”.

Unconf session is something similar to lightening talk. But what’s cool about this one was you have a timer running besides you and you have to finish your talk in 5 minutes. Regardless of whether you finish or not, when the timer ends; the projector blacks out and you have to hand the mike to the next person. I enjoyed listening to all their talks. 
The day ended with taking photographs and giving gifts to people I have bonded over the event.

I planned to have a FAD for the next 2 days but the ambassador’s Cheng-Chia was busy on the 8–9 since he had training. I planned to have a FAD for the next 2 days but ambassador Cheng-Chia was busy on the 8–9 since he had training. I came to find out later that he was a dentist and taking responsibilities as a Fedora ambassador in his free time. I do hope to visit Taiwan again and have FAD with the Taiwan community. I look forward to attending and giving talk on the next g0v summit in 2020.