As I explained, 80 percent of Taiwan’s population is on Internet, which is coming very close to the literacy rate. It just enabled a very rapid dissemination of ideas, of critiques, of conversations, of dialogues.

Mayor Ko’s campaign was, let’s say, independent. He did not actually have a single party underwriting his campaign, so he had to crowd-source his teams, including the ground staff for  campaign mobilization. He did not know these people. He just threw out a crowd-sourced call for volunteers, and people volunteered for his campaign.

This is possible precisely because there is this idea called “swift trust” on the Internet. If I perceive there are people on the other side of the monitor, who speaks the language as I do, then instead of building trust slowly over the time, I will default to trust this person, until they did something that makes me think, “OK, maybe they’re not warranting my trust.”

This is fundamentally different from the pre-Internet places where if you meet a stranger, there is no way that you will just trust them, then way you do on the Internet. It took time to build a relationship in physical space. Mayor Ko capitalized on this idea of swift trust, because people who volunteered for him also did not know each other, so they very much just did things in whatever way they imagined.

The entire campaign was running in an open-source way. All his press, all his recordings, all his talks, all his platforms were licensed under creative commons, and there was a DIY-campaign hackathon that promotes all the different ways that you can use. Participants built a lot of very different things like an animated pop-up of Mayor Ko who slides out of a Web page, or an avatar that talks to you with text-to-speech synthesis.

There’s a lot of very interesting applications. Finally, one of his platform items is participatory budget. He understood the open data movement, and the platforms on civic participation were published using GitBook, which is a version controlled way of making promises, and publishing his promises, and offering an open dialogue under each and every of his platforms.

The dynamic enabled discussions of very specific policies, and not just about the person. Mayor Ko is more like a symbolism. He said “I’m just your delegate in the government to empower all the online spaces.”

His campaign was run very successfully, because it promised a higher influence from Internet-using people, through the empowered spaces. He listened to the politics of the netizens — I think he won because of that.

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