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Conversation with Noah Smith

  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Great to finally meet you. You said you read my blog?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Of course. Each and every new post.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Really?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I paid for it.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Do you have time to read it?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Of course.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Impressive. This protocol is really interesting...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah. The protocol...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It's radical openness.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Radical transparency, yes.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Nice.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Here.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, thanks man.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Yeah.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Are you from UK?
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    I lived here for a long time, but Australia originally.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, Australia. Your accent is a little UK-ish.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Feel free to sit here.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It's turning into a group meeting.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah, I know.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    That's cool.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    The recorder is just to make sure that we can make the corrections to the transcript for 10 days, as part of the protocol. Feel free to edit away anything you don't want to publish.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Got it. If I admit to international terrorism.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Exactly. You can make corrections.
  • (laughter)
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Very good.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Hey.
  •  Ya-chi Lei
    Ya-chi Lei
    Hi. I'm Ya-chi, and I'm in the new media group...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    If Noah suddenly starts to speak Nihongo, Ya-chi can interpret.
  •  Ya-chi Lei
    Ya-chi Lei
    [Japanese]
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    [Japanese]
  •  Ya-chi Lei
    Ya-chi Lei
    [Japanese]
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It's nice to know this. I just wanted to meet and, just find out what is going on in Taiwan. This is my first time here. I wrote a pretty well-read blog post about Taiwan last year.
  •  Audrey Tang
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yes.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    As in the video game. [laughs]
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yes. I try to give my posts dramatic titles to get attention, when it's really about...If I titled that post "Americans don't pay enough attention to Taiwan," the readership would be much smaller.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I know.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I've got to dramatize it. It was good. Much of that was, of course, sourced from Taiwanese people I know. Everyone said, "Why don't you go to Taiwan?" [laughs] The pandemic made it a little difficult, obviously.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    You arrived after October 15th?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yes, I arrived on October 18th.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Excellent. Post-pandemic flights.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I saw that it was opening up, so I decided to come right over.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    That's smart.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    A couple of my friends got the gold card, and they spent a lot of the pandemic here. Very cool. I'm leaving tomorrow morning.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    How do you feel so far?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Great. Did anything surprise me? I was surprised at how chill it is, laid back.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah, the very relaxed attitude.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yeah, it's not really like Japan. Japan is very friendly, but it's also incredibly high energy. Everyone's always extremely obsessed with the details of everything. Taiwan seems much more relaxed.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I think it's a good cue for me to take off the jacket...
  • (laughter)
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    It's cool.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I know.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I just came for a vacation, but I suggested to my Silicon Valley friends that they come. They came, and then some VC people started doing VC deals here. Then my other friend came. He's doing electronic sourcing. We turned into a group trip.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Excellent. How large is the group?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Just four.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Just four? OK, pretty decent size.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    We'll be back. Let's see. Taiwan needs to electrify all the scooters.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yes.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    The scooters are a little noisy and pollute-y.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Ah. That's right, and the Gogoro charging stations counts as a reverse energy store for decentralized preparation.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    What's that company called, Gogoro?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Gogoro.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Are they still on the outside of Taiwan as well?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    A little bit, but mainly in Taiwan.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Germany.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yes.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Israel.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    There's lots of countries where scooters are pretty popular.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Mm-hmm.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I also visited Amsterdam, and there were a lot of scooters there.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    More bicycles.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Of course, more bicycles, but a lot of scooters. Scooters use the bike paths, not the roads. That's very odd.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    It's just all dangerous over there in that path.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It really is.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Seriously.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Like you're going to get run down by bicyclists and scooters.
  • (laughter)
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I feel like I'm about to get...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    The less solarpunk side.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    The less solarpunk. It's a little cyberpunk.
  • (laughter)
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Very much so.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I do feel like I'm going to be run down by scooters here sometimes. They're very good at avoiding people, but still. Eventually, luck has to run out.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    That's true.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    What about e-bikes? I feel like that would be a little less...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yes. Also e-scooters. We've got testing sites within the campuses for them. vTaiwan helped to consult to make the E-scooter Bill Amendment. I think it's already passed. It's awaiting the results from the experimental campuses before municipal governments adopts them into general regulation, but the legislature already passed that amendment.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Very cool. What did the amendment do exactly?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Basically making sure that e-scooters have their plate...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Just regulations?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah, clearly... It's basically e-bike-ifying the e-scooters.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Very cool. Any other observations? Let's see. Very laid back. Many buildings in Taipei are new, but many buildings look extremely old and dilapidated. Why is this? What are these old, extremely...?
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    It stems from Noah's blog post on "Taipei urbanism"....
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Which you read.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    ...which is...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Very cool.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    You're contrasting to Japan?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Right, because the infrastructure and building materials are so similar to Japan that some time I naturally contrasted it, and then...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I think it's only really taken down and rebuilt if there's a serious earthquake risk.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Got it. They can retrofit it to...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I see. They don't redo the outside?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    No, there's no social pressure for that.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Interesting. People just don't care?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    We're post-modern.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    They don't really care so much about the external look of the house, but the internal...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I did notice that the internal stuff is pretty nice.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    The social pressure to make a cultural landscape, things like that, simply wasn't there. There was a little bit during the flower expo, but other than that, no.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Got it. I do feel like Taiwan has extremely good skill at interior arrangement and design and that this should be exported to the world somehow. Any other observations? Not really.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Did clkao take you to hot springs?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I didn't go to hot springs, although I want to go. I've been to lots of hot springs in Japan, but I think that Taiwan has more natural hot springs.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    That's right.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Just outside, but I don't think that's a geologic difference. I think it's just because Japan insisted on building something over every natural hot spring and turning it into a non-natural hot spring, turning it into a bath.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Or a Zen garden.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Right, or just a hotel.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Or a hotel.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    They commercialized every nature spot, and that's sort of the downside of Japan, just too much construction, too much overdevelopment of a lot of natural stuff. I think Taiwan gets that right. It's a lot more greenery. I really liked that.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    The eastern side, even more so.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    All right, next time. I do intend to come back. It's not just one...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Of course, and we'll still be around.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I've met a lot of expats too. I don't speak Chinese, unfortunately. I feel very embarrassed traveling in a place where I don't speak the local language. I met some expats or sort of international people who will go back and forth. They're some interesting people, just looking at the businesses that they do. It feels like it's sort of a mecca for Asian American expats.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yep.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    That's really interesting. Maybe they have some language skills.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    There's that, and then there's this whole diversity. It's beyond just tolerance, it's collaborative diversity, and people celebrate the diversity here.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Nice. It really is kind of The Netherlands of Asia.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    A little bit.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    It could even be the California of Asia.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    No.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    [laughs]
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    No, because they actually build things.
  • (laughter)
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    California is all about exclusionary land ownership. It's always been, since the very beginning, the California dream is to get a plot of land, and then exclude everyone else as much as you can. This is, of course, not good. I think it was only World War Two that motivated a lot of development in California.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    After that, there was about 15 or 20 years when the momentum of that built a lot of the modern California. After that, they passed Prop 13. As you know, it limits property tax and a lot of other statutes and regulations to limit development. Now, California is the central battleground for America's struggle to build more stuff.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Build back better.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Build back better.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    And more.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    And more, yes. It's time to build.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    It's time to build.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I'm trying to think of questions that I have. I didn't necessarily expect...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    We've got an entire hour.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    ...a group meeting. We've got an entire hour? All right.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Afterwards, feel free to have more open conversation with John here. [laughs]
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    As you wish.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    One thing that's a little sensitive to talk to people about is how worried are people about...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Earthquakes?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    ...a war.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Ah, sorry. [laughs]
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Well, how worried are people about earthquakes? How bad are the earthquakes here? Is it like Japan?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Really, really bad. Some of them much worse than...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Than Japan?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Not that one.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    The big one.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Around the turn of the century in 1999. Not as bad as Tōhoku -- without the nuclear plant situation -- but in some places almost as bad.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, wow.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    On average, there's three felt earthquakes per day in Taiwan somewhere.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I didn't feel any.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    The eastern side's got more natural earthquakes.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    That's amazing.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yes.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    How many big ones? When was the last big one that knocked something down?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Three weeks ago?
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    The last couple weeks. Remember, we had three or four a couple weeks ago?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Noah, you narrowly missed them.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I've been in just one big earthquake ever. It was in Japan a long time ago.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    If you'd arrived just a week earlier, I think you would have experienced three.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Sorry, I missed it.
  • (laughter)
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    How worried are people about war?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    The same as earthquakes.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    The same as earthquakes?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    A big earthquake is going to come...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    ...eventually.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Eventually.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    That's really interesting.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    We had an earthquake in '99, really, really bad. We, of course, still build buildings after that. It's not like we don't build buildings because of earthquakes. We've just got to build with resilience in mind.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Of course, Taiwan hasn't had a war since the Nationalist occupation or whatever that's called.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I don't know... We field a million or so cyberattacks every day.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    A million cyberattacks a day?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    And maybe three felt ones, same as earthquakes. [laughs]
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Wait. How do you measure the number of cyberattacks?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Port scanning and so on, things that are actually recorded by the log.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    A million cyber attacks and, I assume, essentially all coming from China.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    We know that it's foreign because foreign packets travels through submarine cables somewhere. It could be a botnet.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Right. I see. Does Russia really have any idea to cyberattack Taiwan?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Right now we're pretty resilient, with all those zero-days we had to deal with, hybrid cognitive warfare, you name it. So it's exactly like earthquakes.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    With all this experience defending against cyberattacks, is cybersecurity a major Taiwanese export?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yes.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Cool.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    It is, with Trend Micro and so on. There's also a new, young generation who consistently places second in DEFCON CTF, right after the US team, of course.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    The US team is good?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    The US team is pretty good. Yeah, we're doubling down on cybersecurity.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    That's pretty cool.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    There's an area that we may excel in cyber security, the semiconductor supply chain. The E187 semiconductor supply chain cybersecurity standard came from Taiwan, and we're trying to export that in the sense of mutually compatible lab...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Security at the hardware level?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    That's really interesting.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Was Bloomberg's article bullshit or not?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Which one?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    The one about the Chinese chip exploit. There was an article. It was a big feature story. They didn't retract it. A lot of people claim that it was wrong. This was years ago when I was working at Bloomberg. I was at Bloomberg Opinion. This was at Bloomberg News.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I heard everyone talking about and arguing about it, but I didn't know anything about it. Then I asked some people, but nobody really knew whether this was likely to be true or not. Bloomberg stuck by it, but then a lot of people got mad at them.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    What was the claim?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I'm trying to remember. The claim was some chip that had been sourced from China had an exploit built in...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    ...but I don't remember what. I think it was for servers.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah, I think in one of the servers used by public cloud services. It was long ago.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    This was 2018 I would say, maybe '17. It was a while ago.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I think that's it.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I was always curious.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Sure. I don't know about that particular incidence for sure, but similar stories were the prompt during the Sunflower Movement in 2014 to say that, if we use PRC's so-called private sector product in our telecommunication -- at the time not 5G -- 4G infrastructure, then it cost a lot more to do system risk analysis as compared to sourcing with European counterparts.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    The Sunflower Movement, you were involved in that, right?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Providing broadband service, yeah.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Was it coincident with the umbrella protests in Hong Kong, or was it before or after? I don't remember.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    It's immediately before. Some of the people who participated in Sunflower happened to be visiting Hong Kong sharing some of the Sunflower stories when Umbrella happened.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Interesting. Taiwan may have inspired Hong Kong more than...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I don't know about that, but there's people who participated in both.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    That's interesting. I was in Hong Kong for a little while during the protests and saw some protestors.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Wow.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I wrote a blog post about it. One of my first blog posts I ever wrote was about that same...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    What brought you to Hong Kong?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I knew that China was going to crack down, and I knew that the city would be really changed. Of course, I couldn't predict COVID, but I knew that something was going to happen, and the city was going to be changed. I'd never been. I'm really bad at traveling. I almost never travel.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I just wanted to see what it was like while I still could. I felt it had already changed a lot. The Hong Kong that I'd seen portrayed in media as a kid in the 90s, it'd already been changed a lot.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    There's a couple bookstore in Taipei that tries to snapshot that moment and transport it here, run by Hong Kong expats and with the Hong Kong community currently in Taipei. Have you been there?
  •  Ya-chi Lei
    Ya-chi Lei
    No.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    To document the '90s era?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Not just document, but to keep it alive.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    China's now retroactively editing a lot of the Hong Kong cinema and stuff like that. Did you see "Everything, Everywhere, All at Once?"
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    People keep telling me that I should see it, but no.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It was sort of an American homage to Hong Kong movies.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yes?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It's very silly.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    It gets very silly.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    A goofy movie.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    It's very silly. We've got a Department of Democracy Network within moda now. Within that department, there's a division dedicated for we would call it Plurality, or web3-enabled decentralized social technology.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Its Mandarin name is very similar to the movie's title, it went quite popular for a while. People kept telling me that I should hire Michelle Yeoh, the actress, to head that division.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    She was good. Because one of the, small spoiler, alternate realities that her character experiences is actually just her being herself, her real self. That's one of the alternate.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I read about her being a stone. The translation for that is very interesting.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I do like the talking rocks. That's good.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Wang Anshi, a stable rock.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Very philosophical. One thing that I haven't heard much about is Hong Kong immigration to Taiwan. I know that lots of Hong Kong people are leaving. It's not a great place to live so much anymore.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Many of them are here either by investments or education.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I'd heard that there was like a two year wait for a lot of these people to be vetted.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Indeed?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Someone told me that. Is that...?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    It depends on whether you joined by investments or by employment or things like that. It's...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, interesting. It's pretty open.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    There's something like whether you joined the Chinese Communist Party and worked in the Hong Kong government there, things like that...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, I see. Of course.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    If there's a flag there, then maybe it takes longer.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I really feel like I've been a big immigration advocate in the United States. I think like also true of Taiwan.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    "Immigrants, we get the job done."
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    They get what?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Get the job done.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    They get the job done. Yeah, exactly. Taiwan's, birth rate is extremely low and so of course you're going to need a lot of immigrants, right?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah. Some of them here may even naturalize at some point.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yeah...
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    I'm under intense pressure.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It's a free society.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    It's a free society. You don't have to naturalize... today. Let's talk tomorrow. [laughs]
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Do people just use as the gold card system, like from residency?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    They do. Yes. The idea is that the gold card, because it's renewable, if you renew by that point maybe we try to convince you to naturalize. Because you get to keep your original passports if you make significant contributions, like if you're a gold card holder...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I'm afraid I could never make a significant contribution. I don't think blogging is significant enough.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    No, I think it's very significant. There's a three-year period. Get your gold card, blog for three years and then it'll be sigifiant.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Welcome to you too.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    You can wear this "Also Taiwanese" badge.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Nice. I'll consider it.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    What are you going to post?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Universal healthcare for you and your family.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Universal healthcare. I don't speak the language.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    That's fine. We have 20 national languages. Pick one to learn. John here doen't speak any of them either.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Are you serious?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    What? How?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Very carefully.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    This interview is about me?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    We're interviewing you now.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    You're here for how many years?
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Since I arrived in November 2007.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Oh wow, a long time. 15 years.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I feel like so few people here speak English.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    I'll just give you some perspective on it. I lived in Korea, South Korea before I came here.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, you did?
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    I lived in South Korea for six years. No one speaks English in South Korea.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Also I noticed that.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Coming to Taiwan felt like a completely open and international society where people were speaking English and they were prepared to speak English to you. there are pros and cons with that. Because the con is that you are comfortable.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    You never actually social pressure, there's utopia again. You're not actually forced. You learn basic, but you're not forced to do it. In Korea, you don't speak that language and you don't speak enough of it, you'll be in conflict constantly.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Here is more like Texas, I feel like, which is where I am originally from.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Oh really? Where in Texas?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    College Station.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Where is that?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It's nowhere. Have you heard of Texas A&M University?
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Yes.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    That's where that is. It's just a small town in the middle of nowhere.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Friday Nightlights.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    We would play them in football every year and there would be fights between us, and our fans, and their fans would give them fist fights because they both cared about football so much. That's Odessa for me, it's Friday Nightlights.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    They were more corrupt. They did a lot of crime and we didn't, so that's why they got the show about them. Because they did crime.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Makes sense. So, you don't have to learn Mandarin. We have 19 other national languages, including the sign language.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Including sign language, which I also don't speak. That just feels weird. I don't know. I feel like such a jerky American going everywhere in the world expecting people to speak my language. I just feel it's like a little imperialist, I don't know.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    As long as you learn 1 of the 20, you're fine, it'll be mutual.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    As long as I learned 1 of the 20...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    And you speak Nihongo too.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    When I lived in Japan, I had taken Japanese in college, but then my Japanese was still really bad. For the first year I was there, I made sure to not interact with any English speakers at all.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Among the very senior population and the junior population, Nihongo can take you very far.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, really? Oh, yes. Went to a tea house that caters to Japanese customers. They spoke Japanese. It was very useful.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    You're already half way here.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    The younger generation, because they need to watch anime.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Exactly.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Here's the real policy suggestion that I have, and of course this...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    About anime?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yes. This comes too late. I should have come to Taiwan in the '90s, but I was a kid so I couldn't. I didn't think of this until now, but Taiwan should cultivate pop culture industry. I know there's Taiwanese pop culture industry that's domestically focused, or even focused on the sort of Chinese speaking world.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    You know Jay Chou or whatever is popular...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yes. Cinema too.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    ...of course beyond Southeast Asia, Chinese people know Jay Chou and stuff. I really feel like South Korea has... Of course Japan succeeded by accident. It was really interesting because I interviewed someone from Kodansha, the Mongo publisher in 2014 or 2015.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I was talking about cultural exports and he said, "Americans don't want to see Japanese people on screen." I said, "Are you crazy? That's all Americans want to see." their stuff got exported by accident. Whereas Korea, it was very intentional.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It was like, "Everyone's going to watch." They even have K-pop groups that are oriented toward various countries. Twice as a K-pop group with Japanese members, that's styled more like J-Pop. Whereas Black Pink is styled like hip hop. It has a Thai, a New Zealand member, and etc. They do this intentionally.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It's really interesting how they promote the Stuff. Do you know anything about that from having lived...?
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    We create different aspects of it, but not to the extent you...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Then Taiwanese do this. Realistically it's going to take 10 to 15 years, so it's maybe 10 years at the shortest. It's a little late of a...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Which form do you think we should take, aside from bubble tea?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Aside from bubble tea, everybody knows that. Which form? See, I don't know because I'm not an entertainment industry person. If Korea had asked me for advice, I would say I don't know.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    There's suggestions that maybe the web3 NFTs are it, maybe we we should just double down on that metaverse thing.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Definitely not the metaverse, that's garbage.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Not the metaverse, not bubble tea, what else?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, food is great. The thing is that food gets disassociated from the place. Then it's just...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    ...like the California roll of sushi?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Invented by a Korean chef in the East Bay. A California roll. That's really interesting because American sushi was all invented by Koreans. Because when Korea was occupied by Japan, they wanted to eat sushi, but they couldn't get enough vinegar, and their ingredients were more stale.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    They just added extra ingredients, used softer, less vinegar in the rice, and then they baked it sometimes. Of course this was just like... Japanese people would be like that's awesome. When you actually then add in the same techniques with the good ingredients, it's better than Japanese sushi. Now it's taking over.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    The hack that made it.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Let's see. The basics are TV, movies, video games, comics, cartoons. Those are the main...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Video games?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Video games. Video games are huge. I would argue that more than anime, manga, or anything, or fashion or cosplay is the, or however you pronounce that, cosplay, is...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Cosplay is right.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Cosplay.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Of all these, only video game is within our ministerial portfolio.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I would say that, are there video game studios in Taiwan?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yes. Quite a few. They actually cross-pollinate. They take good ideas from video games -- like Detention -- and make [movies](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detention_(2019_film)) from it, make comics about it. There are pretty good video games studios here.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I would do that. I would also try to focus on something with live action. Live action includes TV, movies, and music because you actually see the person.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Ah, performance.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Performance. There some sort of thing where you see the people. The least connected is...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Pizza has arrived.
  •  Jia-chen Chung
    Jia-chen Chung
    Sorry about the delay.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    That's fine. Go ahead.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Howdy.
  •  Jia-chen Chung
    Jia-chen Chung
    I'm fine.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    My bodyguard.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Nice. You kill with a pen.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Dangerous.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh boy.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I'm not dangerous at all.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    This is nice to know.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Only my jokes are dangerous. Noah's principle of pop cultural exports. I will just make it up. Source? "I made it up."
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    My principle is that the more... Oh, thank you. Nice.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    The more packaged and separated from the people a product is, the less it connects forward it is to the country. The least are like, for example, Sony products. I would say that probably 90 percent of Americans think Sony is an American company. Nobody even had...Which was part of the reason they named it Sony.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    They thought Americans would want to buy domestic products and so they knew it. Manufacturing products than food, then things like video games and comics that depict stylized representations of a culture and a people.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Then music, TV, and movies are the most, because when Americans watch "Parasite" the Korean movie. which I thought started good but got bad at the end.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    With Parasite, you see Korean people living in Korean ways, and then suddenly everyone in America wants to go to Korea. Hopefully they don't expect Squid Game.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    That's a good one.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I don't want anyone to go to Korea expecting to play Squid Game. It's not good. I guess you see the principle. Video games, comics, and cartoons are in the middle. Good but not the very best because they don't show the people themselves. What's the Taiwanese TV and movie scene like?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Pretty good. There's also some public TV projects that collaborating with Netflix and the like. The thing is that, as you mentioned, the Koreans made it a national project to convey this whole cultural diplomacy thing. Every art form, pop culture form, links back to this Korean tourism or Korean cultural image thing.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    In Taiwan, we're only seriously starting to coordinate that with the forward-looking infrastructure budget, starting in 2016. That's when "The Worlds Between Us" were made and so on. Actually, Ya-chi may be more qualified...
  • (laughter)
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    ...to talk about this than I am.
  •  Ya-chi Lei
    Ya-chi Lei
    I follow manga and anime, and because of manga and anime I learned of Japanese. I think maybe now real people could also transfer culture to the other countries involved, to the whole cultural life and lifestyle foods.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Americans have no consciousness of Taiwan at all. They have some consciousness of China, but not much, because China produces very few pop cultural things. Hong Kong, they have some because of Hong Kong movies, but that was only a short era.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Japan a lot and Korea a lot, but then I think Taiwan has a real opportunity here. China's closed itself off. Xi Jinping is not making TV shows for Americans to watch, and he doesn't care. In terms of Chinese-inspired things, and now Hong Kong is not going to make it anymore either...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    That's right. Are people still learning Mandarin at all nowadays?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Not right now.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    They don't?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Like 90 percent reduction. I don't know. It's huge part.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I know.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Maybe they can learn some of the other 19. [laughs] That's a good question. It's startling how little cultural product China's created that resonates with not just American but people from various countries. Japanese people I know don't know any Chinese products. It's not because of some sort of national enmity. Otherwise, they wouldn't like Korea stuff so much.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Look, Xi Jinping has been cracking down on TV idols, video games. I feel this goes beyond simple national promotion or whatever. It goes to a very deep value of self-expression and being who you want. Pop culture, a lot of it's created by corporations and industry, but through fandom and through indie creation and through things like that, people can self-express using the pop cultural stuff.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Now, Xi is telling people, "You can't be fans of these TV idols. We're just cracking down all the fandoms."
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Especially if they are effeminate.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    If they're effeminate, right. He's like, "No, you gotta be manly men." You've got to forgive him. He grew up in a cave, so he's a caveman.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    A true story.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It is a true story?
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    It is a true story.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Probably the only caveman leader in the world.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Still alive.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Still alive. Here's the most important blog post I wrote and probably the blog post I'm most proud of that I've ever written or the thing I'm most proud of that I have ever written was about weebs, W-E-E-B-S. Can you call up that blog post? If you speak Japanese, you might recognize the quote at the beginning...
  •  Ya-chi Lei
    Ya-chi Lei
    Oh!
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    ...which is from a cartoon, and you may get the pun. Weeb culture is not Japanese. Japan has geeks who love fantasy stuff, but they're just like American geeks who love Star Wars or Dungeons and Dragons. It's the same thing. Weebs are different.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Weebs have used Japanese cultural products to create for themselves a subculture that fixes many of the problems that Americans have. I would say, if I have any insight to offer about what sort of pop cultural products offerings will work in America, it's contained in that blog post.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Good. I've read it.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Really?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Those are my thoughts on what matters in terms of how it works. I didn't do a follow up on K-Pop fans, but I think that you can easily see the extension of the same principles that I wrote about too, like K-pop.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    It facilitates appropriate appropriations. That's the main idea.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    If I had one sort of policy suggestion to come and deliver it, is that. The pop culture.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Let's incorporate that into our #FreeTheFuture strategy.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I also wrote a post about cultural superpower. What makes a cultural superpower. Just about how stuff I already said, like Korea demands.
  •  Audrey Tang
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I would say that's the only blog post that you should read for new insights on top of what I've already said is the one about weebs. It's a pretty short blog post, but I spent a day and a half writing it. Normally a blog post will take two hours. This one took more like 12.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Truly distilled.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I had to think very carefully about what I wanted to say. Anyway, those are my thoughts on policy stuff.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    How's the substack treating you? Good?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I'm not one of the top substackers, but I'm slowly linearly increasing linear growth. I don't have to have a real job anymore, so that's useful. I can blog in my pajamas.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    That's your job.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    With my rabbits.
  •  Ya-chi Lei
    Ya-chi Lei
    Your rabbits?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yeah.
  •  Ya-chi Lei
    Ya-chi Lei
    That's cute.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yeah. I hope to eventually make it into the top tier of sub stackers on...Some of the top sub stackers I really like and some of the top sub stackers are people that I don't really like. The only solution is to be more popular.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Easy.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yeah.
  •  Ya-chi Lei
    Ya-chi Lei
    Aww. It's so cute.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It's so cute.
  •  Jia-chen Chung
    Jia-chen Chung
    Ooh. It's so cute.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yeah. They're cute.
  •  Ya-chi Lei
    Ya-chi Lei
    You love your pet.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Love my pets.
  •  Jia-chen Chung
    Jia-chen Chung
    So cute.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    This is Cinnamon and Giggles.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Oh, Giggles.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Giggles. He's actually Constable Giggles.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    He's beautiful actually.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Isn't he beautiful?
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Yep.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Anyway, those are my pets. I just sit around, blogging in my pajamas with the rabbits. That's fine.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Do they travel with you ever?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    No. They're like cats. They would get freaked out by traveling. Then no. They're at a hotel. Do you have any pets?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Used to, but my parents took care of the dogs. Dogs and cats.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, nice. I always had dogs and cats, but then I decided to try something different this time. Do you have any questions for me? I just speechified, I don't know.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I don't know. What comes to mind? Questions from the floor?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I have more thoughts about pop culture stuff. Japan had a project called Cool Japan. It was a disaster. Had a complete failure. You know why?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Why was it?
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Yeah, why?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    First, the approximate cause, the immediate cause of the disaster was that all this program did was give money to big advertising agencies. They had some capital which they thought these big companies must have the expertise in selling stuff.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Those companies had no idea how to sell Japanese stuff overseas, because they'd never tried. They had no expertise. They didn't know what overseas people liked. They just ate the money and that was it. Then finally, after many years of failure, the Cool Japan program shifted to partnering with Netflix.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Then they got a slight victory. Then meanwhile, the Japanese cultural products succeeded completely accidentally. Because what they didn't do was follow the demand. They didn't try stuff and see what the foreigners liked. Companies like Nintendo did.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    They made some games and they saw what the foreigners liked and wasn't always what Japanese people liked. For example, Japanese people would prefer Dragon Quest -- Dragon Ball, and then Americans would prefer Final Fantasy.
  •  Ya-chi Lei
    Ya-chi Lei
    Oh, really?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh yeah. Final Fantasy Seven was the most popular game in America in the 1990s. It was just explosion, huge explosion. I would say that game introduced a lot of people to Japanese culture in America who would never, ever watch anime, read manga, or stuff like that. Final Fantasy sell.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Having individual companies doing their best entrepreneurially to search for things that Americans like. I think K Pop did this too. Of course the government had its strategy, whatever, but the production studios thought, "How can we sell this to other people?"
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    For a long time they failed because for a long time those production studios tried to do stuff that was very like J-Pop. J-Pop just wasn't selling much. Then they thought, "OK, so well let's try a different cat then." Some started experimenting with more hip hop sounds, and that turned out to be much more successful.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It was because they experimented and they followed what people liked. In terms of movies, Korea produced a lot of movies about revenge, murder, death, and killing. Boring. Then, those didn't really become popular in America. Americans weren't interested in that.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Then some Korean filmmakers made movies about inequality. Americans went, "Whoa, we want to see." Which is ironic because Korea is much more equal than America. Then Americans wanted to see this movie about stuff about inequality because they felt like this was a problem in their own society. That was a thing.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    In terms of Korean dramas, those haven't caught on in America, but those have caught on in other countries. Most countries want to watch Korean dramas. Anyway, there was a lot of experimentation. I'm not actually sure how much the government of Korea actually helped.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Companies intentionally planned it, whereas in Japan, even the companies didn't plan it. The video game companies did, but then the publishers and cartoon, like animation studios did not plan their appeal. For decades you technically had to pirate them. You had to steal it because the companies wouldn't sell it.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Only recently with Netflix have they realized that there's an opportunity there, but then there must be some way to prod... I assume there are entertainment companies that exist.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yes, of course.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    There must be some way to prod them, incentivize them to start looking for overseas opportunities. Some sort of policy subsidizing cultural exports or something. I don't know exactly what the word.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Did you meet ipa, clkao's wife?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    No. Who?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Chia-Liang Kao, who you've met yesterday...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, yes. No. At the time, she wasn't at the...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    She was, I think, head of international strategy in the Taiwan Creative Content Agency, the government-supported institution in charge of this.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    To do this, right?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah. She knows all the connections and entertainment studios and so on, to try to -- not directly control because we don't do top-down controls anymore -- but incentivize, as I said, them to connect with international market.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Maybe ask ipa that next time because she knows all about it.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    What's her name?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Ipa. I-P-A.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Ipa.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    As in Ipanema. "Ipa Chiu" is her full name.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I don't know. Ipanema, like that song?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah, shortened to ipa.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, I see. That's my thought. Pop culture is key. Then of course that leads to tourism and to immigration or pseudo immigration where expats... Immigration from rich countries to other rich countries is not as common, because, permanent immigration is often for economic reasons. Or for Hong Kong type of security, political stuff.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Often people will... I spent four years in Japan and I came back, but see that's a common thing. Some people did that during the pandemic. I've been meeting a bunch of expats. That can be a way for people to get an attachment to another country. That's right.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    These sort of pop cultural dreams are one reason why people do that. Now there's all these Americans who want to go live in Korea for a while, because K-Pop has given them this...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Inspirational...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    ...unrealistic dream of Korea. It's not going to quite live up to what they...There was this story, I've been tweeting a whole bunch of these, but I don't keep them correlated. Maybe I should, so that whenever I meet anyone, I can just pull out like 500 links on whatever topic.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    There was a story about these British women who after watching Korean dramas and getting into K-Pop, decided they wanted to date Korean men. They went to Korea and they found the men were much more sexist than portrayed in the dramas. They were angry, but they tried.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    They had that dream in mind. I just thought that was funny because British women were like, "Oh, Korea. The land of romance." It's a little hardass. It's similar to Texas because they really like beef, alcohol, Jesus, fighting and yeah, it's just...
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    One flows from here goes naturally.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Today, we have a very natural connection. In fact, in my hometown, an ESL teacher said that Korean was spoken more commonly than Spanish in his ESL class in Texas.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    I don't believe that...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    So many Korean people moved to my hometown. Now, we have a bulgogi burgers, but people don't know that's Korean. I was at some burger restaurant in Texas, in my hometown, and these two redneck guys were in there. "Y'all wanna get a bulgogi burger? Ah, it's pretty good."
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I said, "Oh, yeah. Do you know where bulgogi's from?" He's like, "Well, I don't know. It's just pretty good beef." [laughs] He had no idea it was Korea. He's like, "Bulgogi, what's that?" Food can get divorced from stuff. It took me many, many years to learn boba was a Taiwanese thing.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Also, one thing that was inhibiting this process was that I would say most Taiwanese Americans, until very recently, had called themselves ethnically Chinese. Their parents taught them that they're ethnically Chinese. My guess is that probably many of those are descended from the later wave of people.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Maybe. Also there's this tendency to call Mandarin "Chinese". Instead of saying we speak Mandarin and write traditional Han characters, people would say that they speak "Traditional Chinese". Then it sounds very Chinese. [laughs]
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Right, exactly.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Like traditional English.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I know, traditional English. Not simplified English. [laughs]
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Hold on, people from Egypt speak Arabic, but they don't call it Egyptian.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I know.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    People from Venezuela speak Spanish, but they don't call it Venezuelan. They just call it Spanish. Taiwanese Americans, children of people who immigrated from Taiwan to the United States would call themselves Chinese instead of Taiwanese, until recently. Now, they're starting to call themselves Taiwanese.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yes. That's because there's a cultural layer that covers basically the Sinophone or even the Sinosphere, like people writing Kanji, literally the "Han characters". Anyone who uses the Han ideographic writing system could have called themselves Chinese... That's the thing. Because it used to be that the ideographic characters were used to make communication possible between seven or so very distinct languages.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    ...alphabet too?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    The ideographic characters nowadays, of course people call it kanji or "Han characters" now, but for the longest time people would just call them "Chinese characters".
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    That's what kanji means.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    That's what kanji means?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yes. Chinese characters.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I don't know. "Kan" refers to a dynasty. Anyway...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    That's true. Even "Kan" in Kankoku in Japan actually just means Chinese.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Technically, it means a dynasty and groups that identify with the dynasty's culture. You can also call a cultural group "Tang" or whatever. These are dynasty names.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Japan traditionally had many many words for China and Chinese people.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Exactly.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    The original slur for white people in Japan -- where white people started showing up from Europe in Japan -- the ethnic slur was Ketō which translates to hairy Chinese people.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Oh, wow. I see.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Hairy Chinese people. Anyway, but that's Japan's own history...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Nowadays the term "Chinese" has been re-politicized, that problem should solves itself real quickly.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    That doesn't automatically mean people like me who have consciousness of Taiwan. I think that there's...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Because we've been talking about gold card, we...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Talk about?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Gold cards. We discussed here actually quite recently because we're a new ministry. We may get to set -- if we want -- our gold card policies.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Go-kart policies?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    What kind of people should we give gold cards to.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, gold card. I'm sorry.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Gold card.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Gold Card. Yeah. Gold card.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Basically the idea is that, for example, the Ministry of Economic Affairs will look at your income level. Once you reach a certain income level, they grant you a gold card.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    The National Science and Technology Council will hand you a gold card if you make research contributions, or they decided that running a startup counts as related to research, so they also hand out gold cards for successful entrepreneurs.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Between these two, now for moda, what kind of digital nomad should we hand gold cards to?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Digital nomads are a small selective set.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    A small what?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    There's not many of them.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I know... Isn't it like all bloggers are digital nomads?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I could be a digital nomad, but rabbits keep me tied to the land.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I see. [laughs]
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I was a digital nomad in 2015. I heard that Taiwan has a program similar to Israel's Birthright program. What is it called?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    The Birthright program?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Do you know the Birthright program of Israel?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    If you were born...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Israel tries to recruit every Jewish person in the world to become Israeli. To this end, they provide free vacations for young people on which they...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    The Love Boat.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Love Boat, I forgot that. Love boat is the same thing for...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Exactly.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Who is eligible for Love Boat?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    People who have one side of their parents came from Taiwanese origin?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yes. Why not open that up to more people?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Love Boat for everyone.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Why not Love Boat for everyone?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Free love.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Free love. This is the only country I've been to recently where I still see the word love on advertisements. Unique in that. Everyone else has moved on to hate.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I know.
  • (laughter)
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    We need to get back to love.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yes, of course. Instead of regulating hate speech, we would promote love speech.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    That's right. I'm 100 percent on board with this. I'm with you.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    We'll change the Twitter like button -- which is heart-shaped -- into love.
  • (laughter)
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Unfortunately, this didn't work. Twitter is still based on hate.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I don't know. Maybe new leadership?
  • (laughter)
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Maybe. We'll see. I can only hope that Musk will turn it around instead of simply buying it and then ignoring it, which I think is probably more likely. I hope that he transforms it in some way so that it's not just a constant hate fest.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Right now, Twitter is a video game of hatred. It's like you get points, likes and retweets, for effectively hating people. That's what it is. It wouldn't take that much of an algorithmic change to change it. It's just a lot of people to disable quote tweets.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Make it so dunks don't work and then you won't get all this attention for hate. You'll still have some. You can bias it toward a positive interaction. They don't because their business model is hate.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    The people who work there are not creative at all. Trust me. I know them. They don't have any idea for how to create an alternate business model for this thing. They accidentally discovered the hatred business model.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    My friend is the person who designed the retweet button, Chris Wetherell. I was a big fan of his band when I was in college and would always go see their shows. He designed the retweet button. Now, he feels regret for the rest of his life. He feels like he unleashed this hate on the world.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    The lab where the viralness came from. [laughs]
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yeah. It was the nicest person I've ever met created the hate by accident. He had no idea that that's what would happen. They just stumbled on it. Once they saw, they could change it. They weren't creative enough to or bold enough to switch to a different business model than hatred. Maybe Elon will do that. I should send Elon this transcript.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Do that.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I don't think I have any connection with Elon to send it to. I hope he sees it.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Can I publish this transcript as a blog post? I probably won't, but could I?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Of course! Usually, we...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Does it count as commercial use?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I'm sorry?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It's not a commercial purpose.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    It's Creative Commons Zero, no copyright reserved. Do whatever. We say at most 10 days, but if you take just a couple days to finish editing, then feel free to tell us to publish sooner. Then you can put however you want.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I'm not sure what edits I would make to the transcript.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I don't know. [laughs]
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    If you think about what you're going to say, you don't need to make edits.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I don't think we talk anything that is trade secret or confidential. No.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    No international terrorism. Nope.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Not international terrorism.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Not today.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Not today. That's right. Next time. Love boat for everyone. That's the best idea ever.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Does it cross over to tourism as well?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yes.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Is tourism...?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Tour for three weeks. Get your free gold card.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    ...all boat on the high season.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Season of love. Wait, how does the Love Boat actually work? Is it actually a boat. Is there a boat people go on like a cruise or something? I don't know about this program at all...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    ...it's a three-week group summer program.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I see. They actually go to Taiwan. It's not like a cruise.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    No, they're not on a boat.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Got it. Only a metaphorical boat.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah, only a metaphor.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Got it. I see.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    It's not a cruise thing.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    It could be.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    It could be?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    They're all in the same boat metaphorically.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Of love.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Of love.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Thinking of the big deal.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yes. Because when you really think about what the world is dividing into political blocks. In World War I, the political blocks didn't really stand for different things. At least at first, Woodrow Wilson pretended they did, but really like Germany, Britain, and France.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    These countries were not that different, in terms of values, they didn't really think about values. Then by World War II, people really defined the struggle as a struggle of values. They dramatically exaggerated how different how those values were.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It still held power and people still fought for it on both sides. Now we're seeing, unfortunately, I never wanted to see this again in my life, but we're seeing another era of great power conflict and I hope that would never return.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Do you feel it's bad?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, yeah.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    We're facing now?
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yes. You're in it and...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    We're, like, in the epicenter.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    You're in the epicenter. Yes. It's really bad. There's only bad guys and worse guys when it comes to great power conflict, there's no real good guys. The last couple of times we had great power conflict, the less bad guys won. The guys who were less bad won the conflict. That shaped the destiny of the world.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    The fact that the allies won World War II and even though the allies have plenty of bad guys on our side, including Mao, I mean he was on our side.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    The fact that the allies won and that those that had the most influence over the allies and demanded that like the British Empire give up its possessions and wanted universal declaration of human rights, United Nations and all this stuff, had a real important effect that shaped the world for the next whatever.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    We had a more minor great power conflict in the '70s and '80s with the Cold War. That also I think, resolved fairly well. I'm happy it did anyway.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    We're on the less bad side.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    We are.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    "We are the less wrong."
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    We are the less bad...Yes. The less wrong. The less bad side. We can name all the bad things FDR did. You can rattle them off. Not to mention our allies. The many did bad things. Like in Taiwan, Taiwan has a history of some bad things.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Of course. Now there's this entire transitional justice effort.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I met some people, some historians who were just telling me about the history of uprisings that were put down by the KMT and all the stuff back in the...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    The white terror.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yeah. Anyway, we're on the less bad side I hope. We've got to define what that means. Like what values? It's going to be exaggerated and partially hyped and part like...You see the videos of the Ukrainian soldiers rescuing kittens and stuff like that. They're not.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yeah. OK. Maybe somebody did that, but they're not angels. They're soldiers. Then the Russian soldiers, you see the people who do raping and murdering and stuff like that, but they're not all like that. Some of the Russian soldiers are OK, but ultimately there is a values difference that makes some difference, even if it's not an absolute difference.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It's not Star Wars, but there is some real difference there. I think that the first person I saw who was able to articulate what these different sides stood for was you.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Thank you.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    You're the first person I ever saw articulate, the divide of values between the two sides that was formed in a way that made sense to me.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Thank you.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Thanks. No, thank you.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah. It dawned on me in 2014 during Sunflowers. Not just the PRC and Taiwan, everywhere has contracted the same retweet-button virus. That at the same time actually led to the Arab Spring and all that.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    The PRC at the time had some civil society, especially online. They decided that this is too toxic, that this virus is like SARS, only worse. They clamped down and remained in lockdown for social media, putting in more budget than their military budget to this day.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Whereas we discovered that, maybe we can find a cure, or vaccinate against this kind of virus of the mind, and then we went on bright side, or at least the brighter side.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Zero COVID as an analogy to media control. That is smart.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    The vaccine.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Yes. Vaccine.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    More love, as opposed to zero hate.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    You got to vaccinate people against the hate. I'm very worried this time for two reasons. Basically, got two reasons. Number one, China is really big.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    It is much bigger than the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, any of these guys.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Almost half of the world...
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Bigger than the US. Almost half the world. Well, a fifth, but then like it's a lot. Manufacturing-wise...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    ...that's what I was referring to.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    ...it's equal to US and Europe combined. Oh yeah. No, absolutely.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I've read that graph.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, my graph?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, nice. Yeah. There you go.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Actually, I'm going to have to stand on the bad side right now. I am very bad by nature, but Audrey, you need to get moving...
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    I'm sorry. Yeah, I've got the next thing.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Anyway, I'm worried, but I think you've managed to articulate some principles that our side could say it stands for.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    We figured that out.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah, so figure it out with John and we'll turn that into our strategy whitepaper, or something.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I guess.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Noah can help.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I don't know that I can help.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Nice Noah can help.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    I don't know that I can help. I can tell you about anime fans though.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    OK.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Weebs.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    A good arc.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Great to meet you.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Great meeting you.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Let's have a photo, shall we?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yeah, let's have the photo.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, photo.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Shall we have what we're eating?
  •  Ya-chi Lei
    Ya-chi Lei
    With pizza?
  •  Ya-chi Lei
    Ya-chi Lei
    I can help you.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Want to take a photo?
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Yes.
  •  John Scott Marchant
    John Scott Marchant
    Let's go against the screen there.
  •  Noah Smith
    Noah Smith
    Oh, we're getting fancy.
  •  Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Great.
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