Just so you can see, we have five long form interviews per issue. We publish every quarter. We’ve been around for about 13 years, and our tagline and our purpose is to have conversations with extraordinary people.
For us, extraordinary means people who are contributing to their community, who are living with passion and purpose, people who are, I suppose, change makers for ones of a better word. We really talk to them about who they are, what they do, how they’ve come to be where they are, and what motivates them and their story.
Great. Just to connect and to hear about your extraordinary work, and your extraordinary story. I mean, maybe we can start exactly where we are, which is in Taiwan, in Taipei. You are the Digital Minister. You’re a minister without a portfolio, without an office, I understand.
Without a ministry. You do have a physical office, very nice, really. Can you talk to me a little bit about what it is that you’re doing? You said before that you run the PDIS with no commands being given to you, and you not giving any either. Could you just describe where we are, and what you’re doing?
We are in Taiwan. Taiwan is an island that’s been around for four million years. It’s at the intersection of two plates on earth, and we’re raising five centimeters every year here, which is why there are so many earthquakes.
Taiwan was around for a very long time before human beings, giving rise to a very diverse ecology. Also, the oldest people who live in Taiwan are now widely considered to be the origins of all the indigenous people in the Pacific Ocean of the people who traveled from here, the various different sea-bearing tribes, to all the different islands, Pacific Islands.
My generation is the first generation to enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of assembly. My parents’ generation, they can’t really do this. When they were university students there was still martial law going on. We’re really new to this democracy thing.
Interestingly, they were the first generation to direct election of the president of Taiwan, and also the first generation to do interconnectivity, to do ICT-based development because the World Wide Woeb came in ’96. It was also the year where we had our first presidential election.
Instead of in many older democracies where there are people working on the dominance and people working on innovation, and they don’t really consider them as the same tribe, here in Taiwan I’ve seen a bunch of people doing democratic innovations and ICT innovations. I think that’s kind of special here in Taiwan.
My work here as Digital Minister is to work as a channel between the civil society and our international friends, who work on various innovations that improves their work conditions, their living conditions, the planet really, and the government which still in many cases, work in a non-digital way.
Their reporting structure, the communications structure still mimics when there were still only telephones and papers. For example, whereas before to register for a company you have to run to five different ministries’ offices to work on the names, the trading, the tax, and whatever, respectively, now you have to go to five different websites.
As the Digital Minister, I mostly oversee a refocus on service design, a refocus on what we call human experience -- I try not to use the word user experience -- and the way that collaboration, both between ministries and between sectors, can improve the experience of people interacting with government, be it to enjoy their services or provide the ideas, and petitions, and whatever.
It’s not just me. It’s a whole generation of people who occupied the parliament, and not to protest, but to demonstrate a better way of policymaking. The occupiers were protesters that demonstrates, in the sense not just blocking or boycotting, but demonstrating in a demo kind of way, of saying, "This process is actually a better process."
The process they were demonstrating is what we’d call a scalable listening process. The government, of course, is very good at using radio or television to talk to millions of people, but it’s less good at listening to millions of people. It’s especially not good at getting millions of people to listen to each other.
The later of two categories of technologies, the listening and deliberation, respectively, technology are the ones that are often missing during a policymaking process. Instead, we have the parliament doing a smaller scale of this kind of debate.
We can never be sure that the MPs are reflecting correctly the people who elected them. Many of them do, and do very successfully, but there is no systematic way to guarantee that the imagined ideas between the two voting election cycles are reflected properly into the policymaking process.
Which is why the students occupied the parliament, because they want to express their ideas around one particular bill that the parliament refused to deliberate on. It’s like the MPs went out on a strike, but the occupiers says, "No, if you do it the right way, even with half a million people on the street we can still get useful consensus if we deploy the right listening technologies."
Yeah. It’s huge. Unlike many Occupies around the world, where you get the tribes being more divergent and eventually losing any concrete consensus altogether, this Occupy, in particular, ended up giving a very clear and strong demand, which are then agreed by the head of the parliament.
It was a successful Occupy in the sense that its demands were met and people were just evacuated peacefully. It’s one of the very rare Occupies that actually met their demands. It’s been compared to the 15M movement in Spain. Of course, they had a much larger scale.
I think one of the comparable result is that right after the Occupy in both countries, the city-level elections were won by Occupiers or Occupy sympathizers who themself did not expect to win the election.
Just by participating in the Occupy or supporting it, they nevertheless then become heads of cities. The capital city here was won by an independent, which nobody would have predicted before the Occupy.
There’s many different forces at play. I think one is that it was completely peaceful. It was kept peaceful, because every corner during the Occupy was filmed and livestreamed and we made sure that I think a week or so into the Occupy there was fiber optic Internet line connecting directly to the camp camping outside the parliament.
Even before that, we made sure that there is ethernet -- that is to say, local network -- connecting the different sites of the Occupy. Even though the parliament building was occupied and there’s any number of police in the parliament and then the three different streets are each occupied by, for example, this side is pro-independence, the separatists, and this side was occupied by the labor people, the leftists, and this side was by the Greens.
Roughly speaking. There’s many different camps. The center are the people who initially opposed the bill, who asked for a more transparent deliberation. Nevertheless, because there’s direct ethernet lines connecting these different sides, whatever happens here is filmed like "The Truman Show" and it’s projected immediately on a projector here. It’s as if the walls are transparent. Anyone passing through the street can just look at the projector and see what’s going on in the occupied parliament. There is no room for rumors to spread.
We even arranged for stenographers, court reporters in the parliament to type everything they hear and then add it to the projector screen here, so you don’t even have to dial up the sound or connect to YouTube. You can just pass by and see the captions of what’s happening there.
Yes and no. 10 days before this particular Occupy, we had a dress rehearsal at an anti-nuclear plant parade. Specifically, the NGO organizing it asked for g0v people to work on Internet support, wireless for the journalists there and also becoming their own media, because we discovered that we can connect the line filming the stage of the protestors’ show directly to YouTube live, which was just deployed in Taiwan a couple weeks ago. It was the initiation of livestream for many people.
Because there’s a typhoon, a very bad weather that day, not many people come, but many people wanted to come. Very quickly after we set up the livestream, there was more people connecting than people on the front of the stage, because they all wanted to come. We already had a rehearsal of all the technologies involved.
Also, a year before that, August 2013, there is a quarter-million people, not a half-million, a quarter-million people parade on the same place, roughly. But they didn’t do it because there’s a planning by NGOs or anything. There was just an outrage over an attempted so-called cover-up of a murder of a soldier in the army.
I think it was just people on the local chat boards organizing a flash mob, but they did not expect a quarter million people show up for the flash mob. They initially planned just maybe a thousand people or so.
There’s a huge number of people, but then they can’t really do much, because while the Internet was saturated, they did not bring any ICT technology into it. One of the people initiating this flash mob is a very, very long-time open source contributor.
At that time, we started thinking, and there’s a collaborative document on this, saying, "If we do this again, but with ICT in mind, what would we do? We would have a local network. We would have a repeating screen every 500 meters," and whatever.
There’s a very long period between the August of the previous year and March that people collaborated online on what ICT could do if we do this again. We did not specifically select this occasion, but it’s been in the plans for a very long time.
First, I worked with Apple and other companies. I didn’t really work for them. I didn’t take commands. Also, I physically always lived in Taiwan. I traveled to the Valley only for a few weeks at a time, but for most of the time I’m in Taiwan.
The reason is I don’t really like very long meetings, so if I am in Taiwan because of the time zone, when Silicon Valley wakes up, it’s midnight here. It’s just a time -- maybe one hour of meeting them. Then I go to sleep, so I won’t get caught up in the bureaucracy.
I never really visited Cupertino, despite working with Apple for six years. I think this really gives me a perspective of the limits of the state-of-the-art technology, of how far can we go using telepresence, using video streaming, using online collaborative software. I don’t have unfounded imagination of what it could do, but neither am I blind to what it could offer in a remote working relationship.
When I say retired, I’m not saying that I stopped getting payment from those companies. I still get paid a lot. It’s just I become more of an independent consultant, meaning that I don’t work on specific project nine-to-five any more. I more work like a channel between those large organizations and the free software, open community in general as ambassador of sorts.
I was in that role for I think three years or so before joining the cabinet. I still bring a lot of the same work ethics to my current work. I still organize the team in a way that enables remote or at home work.
I also still do office hours and participate in hackathons weekly to meet with random community participants. I still work as a bridge that is not obeying commands from either side, by making sure that people understand their mutual concerns and so on.
This is very interesting because before I was the digital minister, I was an advisor on the digital economy deliberation platform, vTaiwan, working with the previous cyberspace minister, Minister Jaclyn Tsai. Now our roles are reversed.
Whereas before, when she has anything technical, she would ask me, now if I have any legal issues, I would consult her in our weekly meetings. This gives a very, I would say, cross-sectoral way of a working relationship between so-called the government and so-called civil society, but neither exactly.
Part of this is the idea of peer-to-peer governance. The word "command" is the antithesis of a peer-to-peer relationship. As soon as you give command, that person is not your peer anymore. In order to include more stakeholders in the dialogue, the government is now learning to trust people more.
This need to happen before asking people to trust the government, because it’s mutual. Someone has to move first. A government trusts people by not issuing commands, but instead setting up ways where stakeholders can convene, and listen to each other, and collaboratively determine, while the government endorsing the process instead of trying to take over and commanding the process.
It’s such a different way from the way that so many governments around the world operate. Is this widespread in Taiwan, or is this just with you and the world that you are building and are part of here?
I would say that first, this is not my invention of any sort. This is the first political thing I engaged with when I was a child, when I was 12 or so. When I was 12, I started working with people building the early Internet that was before the World Wide Web. When I was 15 or so, I dropped out of high school to work fulltime on World Wide Web and its technologies.
When people were forming the earliest World Wide Web Consortium -- it was Tim Berners Lee and his friends -- he actually gave up the patents, the intellectual properties and whatever, when he was inventing the World Wide Web, ensuring that he does not have control over whatever users of the World Wide Web, which makes the ecosystem very diverse and very bright.
How do we work with the browsers, the vendors, the websites, the different interests trying to grow the World Wide Web, instead of harming each other’s web by working out proprietary or non-compatible extensions? You remember the early days was Java applets, was Flash, and so on. While it’s technical, it’s also political.
And power. It was a new medium by which we recognized the world, and who hosts this medium really holds the power to that world, as you would now see with the social media. It is very much a power thing, and we were very acutely aware of that at the time.
Yeah, of course. I’ve been reading philosophy -- anarchists -- for a very, very long time before really diving in into what we now call Internet governance. My earliest memory of that was the Blue Ribbon campaign.
I think that was in ’94, when Bill Clinton, at the time, signed an act called the Communications Decency Act that banned not just pornographic images, but also text, from the Internet. The Act says Internet websites need to identify the actual age and identity of people accessing these websites, otherwise they would face fines or whatever for spreading indecent material.
They become black and featuring a blue ribbon which, when you click on it, goes to the link of websites that explains what’s been happening and why the freedom of speech should be upheld online, why the Internet platform providers should not be taxed with the same warranty or the same duties as the people posting on it, otherwise nobody will have people post on their website anymore; it will just be another television channel platform. For user-contributed content to happen, there needs to be some risk in people posting pornographic content.
It was argued very eloquently during the Blue Ribbon campaign, where I cut my teeth. It’s my first experience in learning that Internet is not just a space for academics or for sharing scholarly text, but it’s also a space for assembly, a space for social movement, a space for petitioning and for getting the government to meet its demands.
It’s interesting, because these people all around the world, who have never met before, celebrating a victory together, which illustrates the potential for Internet as a political space, intermingling but separate from any sovereign space. We certainly did not act as representatives of our states. We were individual activists back then.
This then introduced me to this kind of multi-stakeholder, consensus-driven protocol, which runs the Internet until this day. The organization that runs the Internet, the Internet Engineering Task Force in particular, it is not answering to United Nations or anything, or any nation. It’s just one participant. There could be many other participants.
There is very long tradition of giving the whole transcript, radical transparency, due process, face-to-face as well as remote participation, synthetic documents, and everything that was created to give this process a legitimacy, an accountability that is not driven by having a navy or an army, but by radical inclusion and transparency.
All this handled the technical part of the Internet, but even increasingly, the political part of the Internet, also. I was raised in this tradition, so I’m mostly like an indigenous person bringing the way of the tribe to the government in general.
I could, but there is also the World Wide Web, which there is scholars posting their papers. When I look at those papers, they are like 10 years in advance to the textbooks that I’m reading, because it’s cutting edge research.
At the time, many scholars also discovered World Wide Web for the first time. Before, they have to go through the journals. They have to go through the academic publishing system in order to reach the audience.
With the World Wide Web, they could post their pre-prints. That is to say, before printing in the journal, they could post their drafts for the entire peer-to-peer community to look, and maybe find issues, maybe collaborate.
When I look at those papers, first, I learn that for the interesting issues that I want to learn, I want to solve, these people are working on it, while in the textbook, I was just reading about it. It’s very different. Second, everyone is just one email address away.
When I write an email saying, "I find these issues with your paper. Can you explain more?" the researcher would actually write back and react intelligently and direct me to a forum or something. Of course, they don’t know I’m a 13 or 14-year-old, because everybody is an email address.
Then I discovered this academic online community that provides a much better learning experience than high school. There really is no comparison. It’s not that I can’t work with the high school. It’s just it’s a much better alternative here.
Yeah, of course, but they had to be convinced, because it was mandatory education at that moment. The Principal, the person running the high school, actually talked to me for an extended amount of time.
Especially by that time, I already got -- because of the first place in the national science fair -- a guaranteed spot on a top senior high school. When I drop out of high school, I’m also giving up that spot. The Principal really wanted to understand what is happening with me. Am I hit with depression or something? No, there is this whole universe of schools out there.
I tried to talk with the Principal, and she eventually agrees, and basically faked my records of school attendance so that I won’t get fined. It was compulsory education, after all, so she lied to the bureaucratic system. I still came to the monthly examinations and send out blank pages and scoring zero every time. That’s how I managed the one year and a half of my junior high school days.
When you think back to your own experience at high school and the education system -- mandatory education -- and the way that our system is structured, is there anything you would change, in the same way you are working in government to change participatory democracy?
We did that. The people working on alternative education, a few years ago already passed, I think, the most advanced law, at least in Asia, here in Taiwan, so now people, for the entire ecosystem, from the first grade of the primary school, all the way to the third year of the senior high school.
They can choose to learn at home, at any of our university, at a supporting group, or whatever, as long as they can write their own curriculum and have their regional, like their city board approval, to review it and approve it.
I think this is a really progressive movement. That also then informed the mandatory compulsory education system. When the new curriculum is going in effect, in two years from now, the 2019 curriculum, it actually includes many of those alternative school’s mandates into the regular schooling system.
The curriculum now emphasizes autonomy and capacity building instead of skill building, as it’s a waste of educating. Instead of just training students in particular skills, now it just builds people’s way to be autonomous, make a decision for themselves, to be literate in media literacy, critical thinking, and so on.
I looked at all the senior high school proposals very fairly, because I did not participate in senior high school. [laughs] It was very awesome working with the top educators, who all agreed that we’re now in an age where we can’t predict how the world is like 12 years from now, anymore.
It is important that we still have the children being able to be autonomous, to be constant learners, to work with each other, but it’s less important to train them at any particular skill anymore. So, we re-wrote a curriculum, and it’s going into effect maybe a couple of years from now.
That’s amazing. What I love about it as well is this kind of deep assumption of trust. There’s trust in the individual, to be able to understand what is good for them. I think so many systems around the world have that opposite assumption -- this assumption that we don’t know what we’re doing, we can’t be trusted to make decisions for ourselves about our savings or our education.
You described about the process of becoming a woman and then you’ve also beautifully articulated your purpose. Online, you’ve used the word "channel," being a channel to elaborate combinations of intelligence and strength to come together.
I think I was raised without a particular gender stereotype. My mom, in particular, can be very assertive and even tomboyish at times, but also feminine when the situation calls her to be. It’s like Judith Butler’s idea that gender as a performance, not as something intrinsic, so I grew up learning that.
Also, I think one of the key influences was the Internet culture, because the computer really doesn’t care which gender you are. It doesn’t really matter. Across the screen nobody really cares about the race, or ethnicity, or whatever.
...because of the lack of accurate representation. [laughs] Because it’s mostly just textual work that we can offer each other. So, I think it was very liberating in not fixing myself into a certain social script. I think that was formative, especially during my adolescent days.
I did a biological check of my testosterone levels when I was 24. It was somewhere between the average male and average female levels. I was born, I think, not with just a heart defect, but also with something about testosterone that’s, roughly speaking, maybe an 80-year-old man’s level when I was a teenager, where the testosterone level was supposed to be the highest.
That gives to a different development, I think, both physiologically and that I don’t really have as much macho psychological needs as other people. [laughs] Then I’m always happy with being whatever pronoun that people want to describe online.
It still remained true that I hadn’t gone through a female puberty, so there’s many things that I’ve written that doesn’t really match to my personal experience, which is why, around when I was 24, I decided to take hormones and so on, to go through a hormone replacement process and to go through a female puberty, in order to both better understand the firsthand experience of people and also to make sure that whatever the hormonal balance is, it gives me different tastes or different perspective of empathy building.
I think that’s one of the things that one can’t learn from books. It really comes from the interactions and from empathizing with the surrounding, not just surrounding people, but animals, and plants, and, you know, hearts...
It’s not like taking a long-term drug. It’s eye-opening in a way it moves the psychology to places that we’re unfamiliar as a person. I ended up stop taking the antiandrogens and estrogens, but it doesn’t mean I’m not learning anything new anymore...
I am still at somewhere biologically between the two sexes, but I think my mind has been opened in the same way that people say their mind has been opened after living an indigenous livelihood or things like that.
I think it’s because I was born with this congenital heart defect. There was a hole between the two lower parts of my heart. So, I couldn’t really run or get upset when I was a baby, because when my mom said that when I do so, there’s not enough oxygen, so my face would turn purple and I would faint.
Basically, my aggressiveness, in addition to the testosterone thing was capped to a certain level above which my body responds violently. I learned very early on, before I have memory, whenever I start feeling really angry or so, to breathe very carefully, and relax and so on, because my body couldn’t really sustain very high levels of upset-ness, or happiness for that matter, and so the emotions were dulled down.
After I went through the surgery when I was 12, it was fixed. Then I sought out very happy experiences, but I don’t see why being very angry helps so I didn’t really seek those experiences. I have not been very angry at any moment in my life until this point.
In any case, what I’m getting at is that because of this uncertainty of whether I will sleep and wake up the next day for the first 12 years of my life, before getting the surgery, I think I’m born with this kind of idea that whatever I do for the day, I’d better just contribute it because I can’t really hold it to the other day because there may not be other day when I go to sleep.
Even after I get the surgery, and it’s reasonably sure that when I sleep I can wake up the next day, I think this feeling remains. I think this is what gives to this channel-like behavior. It’s because I am not holding anything. I cannot really imagine myself holding anything. I think that’s the origin of this feeling.
You talk about empathy, and you raise this idea of indigenous perspectives. The way I look at the world, sometimes I feel sad and overwhelmed with challenges that we, as humans -- and the planet -- faces, I think what we’re missing or what I wish there was more of is empathy.
I’m interested in your view on this, whether you agree that empathy is something we need more of, and secondly, if you think there are technological solutions or ways to step into each other’s shoes, and if you could talk about this.
There are, certainly with virtual reality, it’s now much easier for people. I had an artist visiting me here. One of his projects was to have people in very different situations, but wearing the goggles, and looking, literally, through the eyes of each other.
Just for example, there’s physically a man and a woman, but they took their VR headsets, and they looked down and look at each other’s bodies, and they respond to, for example, "Raise your right hand," and they raised their right hand at the same time, so that it really feels like being in somebody else’s body, in this kind of empathy machine, to lack of better word.
Also, one of my first VR experiences was to wear the headset, and to look at the Earth from the International Space Station. It was an overview effect that really brought the clouds away, because from the ground, you can’t really feel the planet as one thing. It takes abstractions.
From space, it’s a good feeling, which is why many people came to space and go back a better person, because they could feel that it were one fragile blue dot here. Through virtual reality, it’s much easier to get into the same perspective, not just on the planet, but also on a certain region or so on.
I do think virtual reality really helps. That’s one of the technologies. The other one, I think, is really high-resolution, like 4K and 3D video conferencing. Through Skype or the previous generation of silicone High-Definition video, we lose a lot subtle signals, what we call micro expressions, like where the eyes are looking at, the gaze and things like that.
It’s very difficult to reconstruct that from a piece of glass, no matter how dense is the pixel. We can actually improve on that, which uses a lot of bandwidth, but kept with the sufficient technology, like in the room, one can track where your eyes are looking at, or one of the glasses can know where my eyes are looking at.
One, it can give the impression to the other side of the telecommunication that there really is an avatar, and representing very clearly both the micro expressions and where the attention is. I think that collective inhabitation of meaning between two people’s attentions makes this inter-subjectivity the subject, and we are just vehicles of it.
With two pieces of glass, it’s very difficult to reach that state. There are technologies now that we’re improving to make sure that people can still reach what we call attunement over a distance. Whether that builds into empathy is between that two people, but at least the technology is getting there.
When I hear about your work, and the education system, the radical transparency in activism, the multi-disciplinary inclusive policymaking, these are all incredible uses of technology and of connection. Then it is also this dark side of this world.
I think of this generation of, say, machine learning or other advanced technologies. When you talk about policing, of course people think about AI now, because that’s the technology that needs policing, if there’s any technology that needs policing. I just use it as an example, but it applies to other technologies as well.
I think of AI as like the invention of fire. When human beings invented fire, we took something that is internal to our body, which is the digestion of proteins and other molecules into smaller molecules, it’s like a slow-burning process. When the people were hunters or gathers, we’re digesting.
The thing is that our body can only burn things very slowly and not very efficiently. The things beyond that which could be eaten is left to rot or can’t really be processed efficiently to last for a long time.
Then fire was invented and people started moving one part of digestion to the external towards, which is technology, what we call cooking or preparing the food. Those people become healthier, because it’s antibacterial, or whatever, but also that people were able to produce food in bulk, which protected people against dry weather or whatever, and then it gives rise to the whole civilization.
What I’m getting at is that fire is very dangerous. We’ve seen fire destroying entire cities. We’ve seen fire, when it’s used, causing enormous damage, not to mention that all the weaponry was built upon the principle of inflicting in the sense of causing as much fire and damage as possible.
It is violent, but the civilization’s relationship with fire was never one of policing, it was always one of education, of making sure that even very young people was taught, as part of how to cook, the dangers of fire.
It’s done as part of normal daily work, it’s not done as part of their discipline, or as a technology, so the same with personal computers. It could be fathomed, instead of the personal computer revolution, we have just supercomputers, and everybody was just given terminals, access into state supercomputer as George Orwell imagined in "1984." It’s a plausible scenario, and many part of the world did become that at some point.
Eventually, we were saying essentially that while personal computers can give a lot of fun or 3D printing or whatever, if people started learning its relationship with the community when they’re young enough, they become responsible users of this technology.
Again, with artificial intelligence, this is what we need to do. We need to build artificial intelligence into the devices and have children grow up with artificial intelligence not as one class, or how to use fire in class, but as part of the education system where they work with the teachers so the children learn to see first that the teachers are in a symbiotic relationship with artificial intelligence.
We could easily imagine, like many part of in Taiwan, if we don’t say, "We need to have Internet access, access to cheap computation as a human right," if we don’t say this, then we easily see that people in large cities become eventually a different species, the fire-wielding species, and the rural areas eventually become Neanderthals or something. That could actually happen pretty quickly, maybe over a couple generations.
What we’re now doing is that we’re saying to all the taxpayers that, "Sorry, but Internet access and access to cheap AI computation facility is a human right, and we’re now supporting it with your taxpaying money, and we’re not sorry for it because otherwise, we’re just leaving one country permanently, perhaps, behind."
When we’re working this into the education system and having the collaboration as part of curriculum, I think the society gradually gives trust to people who are doing AI research to keep polishing, to keep sharing whatever it found with the society, because the alternative would be they’re afraid of being lynched by the mob and only sharing to an elite society, which leads to our imbalance...
If we believe that we don’t want to leave anyone behind, if we understand our interdependence with each other, then you live in a rural village, and I’d make sure you’d have computer training. That’s the...
You mentioned that after you had your operation when you were 12, you then had the capacity to have deep feelings, either happiness, or anger. You avoided the anger. I want to hear about what brings you a lot of joy, and what it is that you love.
Whenever I traveled around the world when I was 24 or 25, as part of the transition, I was also working internationally to build a new community over in the computer programing language. It’s bringing people in. I think, that year I had excess of maybe 20 countries. [laughs]
This kind of community building gives a lasting impression, because many people say even to this day, that they learned how to work with these open source communities because they randomly go to one of the chat rooms, one of the channels that is set up.
They come to complain, or come to something, and then I welcomed them, I hugged them, and basically saying, "Your complaint is valid and you’re given the right to build this thing, this computer programming language called Perl 6."
It takes radical trust, because it was before Wikipedia was very popular. Now that Wikipedia is really popular, people can point at Wikipedia as saying, "You know, we know random edits doesn’t destroy an encyclopedia."
It was before Wikipedia was really popular, so we had to really radically trust our contributors, and they have an understanding. Even though I moved away from the community to other projects, the community still builds the Perl 6 language very successfully, and always keeping a very inclusive way.
Now that they officially say that the only entry ticket to this community is that you know how to be good to other people, or that you want to learn how to be good to other people, and everything else, the community takes care of you. It’s one of the things that brought me most joy, is to build communities like this.
There’s also the joy of feeling, the care of animals. I lived with seven cats and two dogs. They constantly remind me that the abstractions, the concepts really doesn’t matter much. [laughs] Whatever I read about animals doesn’t change the animals. [laughs]
It gives a much more direct resonance of my actual state of being as an animal, not as an abstract thinker of something. I think that really gives me joy in that I was able to maintain a stable relationship for a decade or so with individuals, but on a nonverbal level, I think that really brings some joy as well.
As a channel, as I described my life in this kind of mindset, it’s very for me to enter one of those more spiritual state of mind, where there really is no "myself," but only relationship with the environment or with the ecosystem, the ecology.
I used to, when I was a child, maybe seven or eight, learn the Daoist meditation methods. I think that’s still with me. Then, I also went to Tibet, I went to Nepal, and to India, to the Osho Center, and actually many other places as well.
I wouldn’t say I practice any traditional discipline, but I really do enjoying just being with the practitioners of whatever discipline that they are practicing. My grandparents on the father’s side also are devout Catholics, and they could also in their prayer trance very easily enter a very calm, peaceful state of mind. It’s also a kind of spiritual experience.
Thank you so much. It’s so lovely to talk to you. I feel very inspired, and you’ve given me a lot to think about in terms of my own work and this approach of trust, particularly in the face of fear. It’s a big lesson for me, so thank you.