Questions for Durham University Project

CC BY 4.0 g0v contributors at

From Professor Simon Marvin and Dr. Andrés Luque-Ayala:

Hi all. Simon and I are both UK-based human geographers, working on a research project around "smart cities/smart urbanization". We want to examine how smart/digital technologies change the way cities are governed, focusing particularly on their impact on urban infrastructures (e.g. transport, water, energy, housing, waste, etc). We are very interested in the social and political implications of this impact, and how smart technologies are transforming urban flows. Recently we went to New York and talked to people there working on the city’s civic hackers movement (BetaNYC and Code for America). We will be going to Taipei soon, and thought it would be a good opportunity to learn about 

1. In your view, what are the principles that inform priorities of the collective work that g0v members are pursuing? 

au: For me personally, Transparency is the guiding principle, with Inclusiveness a close second. Everything else (open-source, hands-up, public-spirited work etc) follows from these two.

2. What are the most common professional and social backgrounds of those involved in g0v? For example do those involved primarily have backgrounds in software and computing? Business? Government? Others? 

kiang: as was developed in open source community, most of people in have software and computing background or interests. Recently had attracted some people in media area, but looked like they just want to find some first-hand news.

3. What is a civic hacker and what are your motivations? For example what are the key differences between a "civic hacker" and a normal hacker?

au: A hacker is someone who solves problems creatively. Civic hackers solves issues that affects any number of nonspecific people,  invites and empowers any number of nonspecific people to solve issues together.

4. As members of g0v, what are the most common tools that you work with in order to generate change in society? Can you briefly describe these tools?

au: We’re participants and contributors (implied inclusiveness), not exactly members (implied exclusiveness). As of the infrastructural tools, please refer to for a brief list. We’re not tied to a specific platform; we’re happy to use any tool at hand as long as it supports scalable collaboration.

5. What are the three main difficulties you find in carrying out your activism? For example, lack of data? limited technical knowledge? limited technical capacity? political control? others?

kiang: Lack of data is the biggest issue I think. The government just don’t want the people know that much, especially some sensitive ones like budget, meeting/voting records, etc. And the lack of cares from citizens about public issue is also a problem.

6. How does the specific Taipei context as a large city shape the types of activities undertaken by g0v members? For example are you concerned the issues about daily life in the city? Local finance? Local government? 

au: Yes, there are plenty of projects dealing with urban issues. Due to Taiwan’s small size and high population density (similar to The Netherlands) — with over 70% of population concentrating around the six metropolises — the line between national and local governance is often blurred.

7. Does g0v have an impact in the governance of Taipei? For instance can you give some examples of how it influences or impacts the city specifically?

kiang: Most active g0v projects are focusing on information from central government, and most important facilities of it are located in Taipei. In the 318 Sunflower Student Movement, people in g0v had provided some information portal and network infrastructure ( slides from au: ).

8. Are there any g0v projects directly impacting Taipei’s urban infrastructures (such as projects on the city’s energy, water, transport, waste, housing or other urban systems)? How do such projects change or intervene on such infrastructures?

9. g0v documents often talk about "reclaiming our language". Can you describe what these languages are about, and why are they so important for the operations of g0v?

au: Yes. The major vernacular languages spoken here are: Taiwanese Mandarin, Taiwanese Holo, Taiwanese Hakka, Formosan/Austronesian languages, English, and Japanese. New migrants speak Standard Mandarin, Indonesian, Filipino, among others. The collaboration — not merely consuming — on culture-defining works and cross-referencing dialogues is key to an inclusive, participatory mode of governance, which is what we mean by reclaiming our language.