Story and Technology Must Be Allowed to Help Society, Taiwan Creators Told

Harnessing storytelling abilities and moving away from top-down control will benefit not only the development in technology and content creation, but also society as a whole, said speakers on the opening day of the Taiwan Creative Content Fest.

Star speakers at the fair’s opening panel “Post-Pandemic Era: Human Touch” included Taiwan’s iconic Digital Minister Audrey Tang and Tea Uglow, creative director of Google’s Creative Lab in Sydney.

Tang said that the economic, industrial and social impact of the coronavirus has been unevenly spread. To balance out the uneven impact, better storytelling abilities and narratives are necessary, said Tang. They (a pronoun preferred by genderless individuals rather than “he” or “she”) added that trusting the job to those who have the knowledge and expertise will be key.

Tang cited the creation of face mask availability maps in Taiwan made with the support of the hacker community and an active campaign to combat disinformation. Together they helped Taiwan overcome the coronavirus outbreak quickly and effectively.

Using storytelling to explaining the benefits of wearing masks proved to be successful, Tang said. September’s economic data for the retail and catering sector in Taiwan reached record highs, and Taiwan’s exports in the same month grew by 9.9% year-on-year. “We look at who people trust, and we use them as our anchor point as we communicate with citizens,” Tang said.

“What the pandemic has taught us is that the [old] models have changed. Now that we have been working from home, will we go back to offices in the way we did?” Uglow asked. “What you will see more and more is information bursting out from the silos of forms, screens, books, podcasts … when there was absolutely no reason why anything should be bound in that way.”

Uglow suggested that the most radical technological development over the last decade has been the wide distribution and democratization of video-making when platforms were open early on. But this has changed as large tech corporations began to dominate. “Smart tools and operation systems allow people to take back a bit of control. The trend of decentralization is the most interesting now,” she said.

With the launch of 5G high speed mobile networks, Tang expects that people will be able to take indoor experiences outdoors. 5G has been rolled out for general commercial use since July in Taiwan, but the penetration rate is not high yet. Taiwan media has estimated that 5G usage could grow exponentially from the second half of 2021, but other experts have predicted that it will take years for full adoption.

Uglow said that people’s lifestyles will continue to evolve after the work-from-home period finally comes to an end, predicting a post-industrial age and people’s return to nature. Artists, she added, will play a leading role in exploring and experimenting with future lifestyles.

Uglow said that technologies have facilitated the democratization and decentralization of tools for creation over the past decade. In the future, re-thinking “re-decentralization” will dominate the trend of the post-pandemic era, says Tang, a software programmer and a so-called civic hacker.

The internet was fully open with a lot of free stuff available when it was first created, Tang noted. “But large platforms have increased compliance and this is a deviation from the original spirit of the internet. It should be free. It should not be subject to people’s approval. There is no room for surveillance or authoritarian intelligence collection,” Tang said.

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