|Minister without Portfolio|
|Assumed office |
1 October 2016
|Born||18 April 1981(age 39)|
Audrey Tang (born 18 April 1981; formerly known as Autrijus Tang, Chinese: 唐宗漢 Táng Zōnghàn) is a Taiwanese free software programmer and Taiwan's Digital Minister, who has been described as one of the "ten greats of Taiwanese computing personalities". In August 2016, they were invited to join the Taiwan Executive Yuan as a minister without portfolio, making them the first transgender, non-binary official in the top executive cabinet. Tang has identified as "post-gender" and accepts "whatever pronoun people want to describe [them] with online."
Tang's parents are Tang Kuang-hua and Lee Ya-ching. Tang was a child prodigy reading works of classical literature before the age of five, advanced mathematics before six, and programming before 8, and they began to learn Perl at age 12. Two years later, they dropped out of junior high school, unable to adapt to student life. By the year 2000, at the age of 19, Tang had already held positions in software companies, and worked in California's Silicon Valley as an entrepreneur.
In late 2005, Tang began transitioning to female, including changing their English and Chinese names, citing a need to reconcile their outward appearance with their self-image. In 2017, Tang said, "I've been shutting reality off and lived almost exclusively on the net for many years, because my brain knows for sure that I am a woman, but the social expectations demand otherwise". In 2019, Tang has identified as "post-gender" or non-binary, responding to a request for their pronouns with: "What’s important here is not which pronouns you use, but the experience...about those pronouns.... I’m not just non-binary. I’m really whatever, so do whatever."
Free software contributions
Tang initiated and led the Pugs project, a joint effort from the Haskell and Perl communities to implement the Perl 6 language; they have also made contributions to internationalization and localization efforts for several Free Software programs, including SVK (a version-control software written in Perl for which they also wrote a large portion of the code), Request Tracker, and Slash, created Ethercalc building on Dan Bricklin's work on WikiCalc and their work together on SocialCalc, as well as heading Traditional Chinese translation efforts for various open source-related books.
On CPAN, Tang initiated over 100 Perl projects between June 2001 and July 2006, including the popular Perl Archive Toolkit (PAR), a cross-platform packaging and deployment tool for Perl 5. They are also responsible for setting up smoke test and digital signature systems for CPAN. In October 2005, they were a speaker at O'Reilly Media's European Open Source Convention in Amsterdam.
Tang became involved in politics during Taiwan's 2014 Sunflower Student Movement demonstrations, in which Tang volunteered to help the protesters occupying the Taiwanese parliament building broadcast their message. The prime minister invited Tang to build media literacy curriculum for Taiwan's schools, which was implemented in late 2017. Following this work, Tang was appointed minister without portfolio for digital affairs in the Lin Chuan cabinet in August 2016. They took office as the "Digital Minister" on October 1, and were placed in charge of helping government agencies communicate policy goals and managing information published by the government, both via digital means. At age 35, Tang was the youngest minister without portfolio in Taiwanese history and was given this role to bridge the gap between the older and younger generations.
While as a conservative anarchist, Tang ultimately desires the abolition of Taiwan and all states, they justify working for the state by the opportunity it affords to promote worthwhile ends. Tang's conservatism stems from wanting to preserve free public spaces independent from the state, such as Internet properties, and wanting technological advances to be applied humanistically, so that all can reap its benefits rather than a few, to the exclusion of others. Tang's department does not follow hierarchical or bureaucratic relationships. As of 2017, Tang's staff of 15 chose to work in the department. The group produces a weekly roadmap as collaborators, not orders. Tang was quoted as saying, "My existence is not to become a minister for a certain group, nor to broadcast government propaganda. Instead, it is to become a "channel" to allow greater combinations of intelligence and strength to come together."
Tang's first initiative, the g0v project, involved swapping out the "o" for a zero in the government's ".gov.tw" top-level domain to view more accessible and interactive versions of those governmental websites. The project was open source, in-line with Tang's principles, and very popular, as accessed millions of times each month. Another initiative, vTaiwan, uses social media paradigms for citizens to create digital petitions. Those with 5,000 signatories are brought to the Premier and government ministries to be addressed. Changes implemented through this system include access to income tax software for non-Windows computers, and changes to cancer treatment regulations. The Taiwanese parliament complained that citizens had better access to influence regulation than they did as legislators. As of 2017, Tang was working on sharing economy software that would facilitate the free exchange of resources in abundance instead of the ride-sharing and peer hotel applications for which the technology is known.
As a general practice of "radical transparency", all of Tang's meetings are recorded, transcribed, and uploaded on a public website. Tang also publicly responds to questions sent through another website.
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- "Becoming a CPAN Tester with CPANPLUS". O'Reilly Media. 2002-04-30. Archived from the original on 2012-09-07. Retrieved 2011-01-27.
- "Perl Internationalization and Haskell: an interview with Autrijus Tang". O'Reilly Media. 2005-09-08. Archived from the original on 31 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-23.
- Ronel, Asaf (July 17, 2017). "The anarchist minister from the future who's redefining democracy". Haaretz. Archived from the original on February 23, 2019. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
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- James Wang, ″Generation Gap a factor for Blue and Green Camps″ Archived 2017-02-03 at the Wayback Machine, ″Taipei Times″, 1 February 2017
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- The China Post News staff, ″Cabinet to appoint minister to steer open gov't initiative″, "The China Post″, Retrieved 1 February 2017 Archived 1 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine
- Aker, Brian; Krieger, David; Wei-hung, Chen; Chih-jung, Chang; Chun-ying, Huang; Chih-pin, Lin; Ke-huan, Lin; Kang-min, Liu; Chung-han, Tang; Chien-ting, Weng (translators) (November 2003). 架設 Slash 社群網站 (Running Weblogs with Slash) (in Chinese). Taipei, Taiwan: O'Reilly Media. ISBN 978-986-7794-22-2.
- Huang, Echo (Aug 26, 2016). "Taiwan's new digital minister is a transgender software programmer who wants to make government more open". Quartz.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Audrey Tang.|
- Audrey's Pugs Journal and Personal Blog.
- An interview with Autrijus by Debby (in Mandarin)
- Podcast interview with Audrey on Perlcast
- Perl Archive Toolkit
- Audrey's contributions on CPAN
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