Political Apathy or Mobilization? The Student Sunflower Movement in Taiwan

When one thinks about social movements around the world, Taiwan is not one of the countries that come to mind.  Perhaps, this is why Taiwan’s historical Sunflower Student Movement (太陽花學運) is not receiving much attention in Western news.  Rather, what often grabs national headline are Taiwan’s political fighting that occur during parliament sessions. However, as many other scholars of Taiwanese politics are aware, politics in Taiwan is always animated and never boring!  This is why when I set out to study online political participation in Latin America and East Asia, I was interested in finding out what I could learn about how Taiwanese citizens have been adapting and using the Internet and other communication and new media technologies.

In mid-February we began recruiting college students in Taipei to take our survey on the use of technology on their political participation and their views views on the government.  Almost a month later, the Sunflower Student Movement broke out on March 18, 2014 and is still taking place.  From the surveys completed so far, its clear that the youth in Taiwan are experiencing a growing alienation from mainstream political parties.  Despite advances in new communication technologies, political parties in Taiwan have largely failed to engage in dialogue with society.

However, our survey has not yet revealed any evidence to better understand what eventually led the students to rise up and mobilize.  For example, in our survey, most students so far report not feeling like they could make an impact in their society.  Most also report to not feeling like taking action on a social or political issue they read online.  Lastly, the majority have reported that the Internet increases the influence of those with extreme views.  

See cross-tabulation table below:

Clearly, there is more we need to explore in other to understand the differences in views between the silent population of college students who do not mobilize versus the ones that have chosen to uprise historically last month.
Stay tune for more updates!

Apr 07, 2014 3:24 pm

Interested in Technology-Enabled Disaster Relief? Join me on Monday for a Free Webinar

On Monday, 3/31 from 2-3pm (EST), me and LawHelpNY Project Director, Leah Margulies, will be doing a free webinar on technology-enabled disaster relief. See details below and join us if you can! 

Registration link is: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/466607582

Join us for a Webinar on March 31


Nearly one million people are affected by natural disasters each year. When thinking about response and recovery, social media has become the go-to tool for those affected by disasters. 

Building on the lessons learned from the tremendous efforts of many groups during and after Sandy, this webinar will provide you with best practices, tips, and tools for developing and conducting cost-effective online disaster outreach.   

This Interactive Webinar will feature: 
1. Lessons learned from using social media and other digital technologies during and after Sandy. 
2. Short “live” quizzes to help you evaluate your organization’s current post-recovery online disaster outreach and identify areas for improvement. 
3. Information on cost-effective tools and strategies to help you conduct online disaster outreach. 
4. Group brainstorming session that will allow you the opportunity to ask specific questions regarding your challenges in providing online disaster outreach.


Get Tips on Using Social Media for Disaster Recovery (LawHelpNYInteractive Webinar)


Monday, March 31, 2014


2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

Mar 29, 2014 10:38 am

Interactive Heat Map of NYC Heating Complaints (Using 311 Data)

Since this was one of New York’s coldest winter in a very long time, I decided to construct a heat map to see how NYC communities were faring with getting heating for their apartments.

Using 2013-2014 311 data from NYC Open Data, I constructed an interactive heat map of all the heating complaints in NYC.

Using the interactive heat map I learned:

  • Most complaints come from communities in the Bronx.
  • Specifically, four connected neighborhood in Bronx make up for almost half of all heating complaints in NYC. These neighborhoods are: Morris Heights, Norwood, Belmont, Tremont, and Riverdale.
  • The only other NYC neighborhood with the highest heating complaints was Flatbush in Brooklyn.

Click on the map below and see how your community did.

Here is the direct link to it.

Mar 21, 2014 12:25 pm

New Toolkit: Leveraging Social Media and SEO for Online Disaster Outreach: Lessons from Sandy

This newest practitioner’s toolkit comes as part of my work as the Technology Innovations Manager at LawHelpNY.  This toolkit is for any activists, community groups, non-profit staff, and government agencies working on disaster recovery locally or around the world.

Title: Leveraging Social Media and SEO for Online Disaster Outreach: Lessons from Sandy

Abstract: Nearly one million people are affected by natural disasters each year.  When thinking about response and recovery, social media has become the go-to tool for those affected by disasters.  The goal of this toolkit is to help nonprofits and community groups harness the power of social media and search engine optimization (SEO) in emergency and disaster situations.  It builds on the lessons learned from the tremendous effort of hundreds of community groups, government agencies, and ad hoc groups during and after Sandy and proposes best practices, new tips, and tools for cost-effective online disaster outreach.

As always, feel free to email me with any questions or suggestions: wilneida@gmail.com.

Mar 16, 2014 12:35 pm

Survey Launched: Calling all College Students in Taiwan


Thanks to several weeks of fine-tuning our survey, making it relevant to the Taiwan social and political context, and translating it to Traditional Mandarin, me and my Taiwan-based research assistants have launched our newest survey.

The survey, seeks to interview college students (18 and older) in Taiwan about how they are using the Internet and other digital tools to participate politically and interact with their political parties and the larger political system.  Through this survey we are interested in learning not only the specific digital and social media tools that students use, but also gauge both their: (a) expectations about their use and (b) their purpose, and (c) how that relates to their view and impression of their government and their political system.

We recently finished this survey among Chilean college students are looking forward to learning what Taiwanese college students have to say.

If you know a college student in Taiwan, please pass on this link to the survey:  


(Original post featured on: MyOPP.org)

Mar 03, 2014 10:12 am

Visualizing Social Networks with Jürgen Pfeffer @ #Sunbelt14 

On Wednesday, 2/19, I attended the workshop “How to Create Meaningful and Compelling Network Drawings,” with Jürgen Pfeffer from the Carnegie Mellon Institute of Social Research.  

More about Jürgen below:
Juergen PfefferJürgen Pfeffer
Computational analysis of organizations and societies with a special emphasis on large-scale systems.

Jürgen is two parts vibrant and clearly brilliant, with a dash of unapologetic sarcasm and deliberateness in his talk about the common problems in typical network drawings. 

Below are notes from the talk, provided by my lovely sister, Dr. Rosalyn Goldbarg.

After that are the slides from his presentation.

 Problems with typical network drawings

1)     too much information

2)     colors – old, clashing with each other, related concepts in different colors

3)     pixelated

We are good in processing complex things, high bandwidth information. Less so in sequential coding / processing.  Key in visualizations is the ability to show more than one variable (4 – 5) in ways that are easy to process.

In network vis  - 1) data analysis and explorations and 2) data presentation. 

Abstraction – taking away the reality underlying data (real world information), abstracted to make the picture nicer (easier to perceive and understand).  This is central to network visualizations

Criteria for Network Visualizations

  • show structure (in visualizing of larger networks, a lot of research energy is being spent to create algorithms)
  • Visione is an example of a tool that uses more of the space – optimize distribution on surface, which makes it nicer

Preattentive perception

  • your brain is capable is handling information without thinking about what you are seeing too much
  • the elements of preattentive perception are variables that we can use in visualizing networks (size, position, shape, color, saturation, texture)

In network data visualization – things that are on top or in the middle are more important

Color hue & Saturation – changing the color does not mean changing the saturation

Texture – visualizations that use different textures are not easy to perceive

What visual elements are good for visualizing what?

  • elements and data types must be considered
  • relevance of elements
  • quantitative information (shape, for example is last in McKinley’s list)

Lines can be used to create texture if, for example, you color the lines and they overlap in such a way that they create a texture that has information.

Think about what is the story? Choose elements to that will bring attention to the story and not take away from it. If substance is more important than the structure, then that should be highlighted.

Perceived and Actual Magnitude - Implications – if you just have small differences, it’s pretty difficult to show the differences. Others say that you should not use a 2D object to visualize a 1D variable/information. One solution is to use the power or the square root of something to highlight the differences.

The Munsell color scheme makes it possible to calculate differences in color – systematically, so that you can get a sense of uniform and non-uniform colors based on their distances / positions on a color scheme. (LAB in Photoshop and other Adobe products are similar to Munsell’s scheme).

Pajek: possible to remove all lines lower than a defined value or remove all but the most important lines for each node

PDF or EPS stores vector graphics (geometrical objects (a square is a square rather than a set of pixels), scales infinitely); PNG and JPG stores raster graphics (pixels, scales infinitely). Post-processing is doable with PDF in Illustrator (for vector graphics)

Difference between CMYK (subtracting – absorbing – wavelengths of light) and RGB (adding wavelengths of light): two different ways of creating colors. They do not overlap necessarily – colors can look different.

  Click below for the slides to his presentation.


Feb 21, 2014 11:32 am

Sunbelt Conference can’t come soon enough! Stranded in Winter Wonderland Woodstock

Woodstock, NY seemed like the ideal choice to escape the city and concentrate on my dissertation and consultant work.  However, with the recent snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures, what was a quaint and relaxing escape, has now become a cabin-fever getaway!


                               Backyard in Woodstock, NY

In timely news, I will be at the 2014 Sunbelt Conference with my big sis, Rosalyn Negron-Goldbarg who is presenting twice in the conference:

(1) Thursday, 2/20: Effects of Resource Competition on Blacks’, Whites’, and Asians’ Spatio-Temporal Interactions, John Tawa, Juergen Pfeffer, Fred Morstatter, and Rosalyn Negron.

(2) Friday, 2/21: Describing Spatio-Temporal Group Activities - A Mixed Methods Approach. Rosalyn Negron, Jown Tawa, and Juergen Pfeffer

Here is a sample of some of the workshops/presentations that Im looking forward to: 

  • Wednesday, 2/19 - Visualizing Social Networks. How to Create Meaningful and Compelling Network Drawings with  Juergen Pfeffer, Carnegie Mellon University, jpfeffer@cs.cmu.edu.
  • Wednesday, 2/19 - A Tale of Two Social Movements: Interaction Dynamics, Roles, and Content with Emma Spiro, Andrés Monroy-Hernández.
  • Thursday, 2/20 - Democratization As Relational Events: Coevolutionary Sequences and the Collapse of the USSR  by Diliara Valeeva, Benjamin Lind  and The Self-Organization of Mass Political Protests in the Absence of Media Freedom Pablo Barberá, Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon.
  • Thursday, 2/20 - A Study of Glocalization using Cultural Network Analytics on Twitter: A Case of Kpop Jiyoung Kim, Ho young Yoon, Hanwoo Park and The Structure of Online Activism Kevin Lewis, Kurt Gray, Jens Meierhenric.
  • Friday, 2/21 - Awareness of Social Capital during Hurricane Sandy Maria Dwyer, Lora Appel, Punit Dadlani, Keith Hampton, Vanessa Kitzie, Ziad Matni, Rannie Teodoro.
  • Saturday, 2/22 - Citizen Participation in Political Communication via Weibo micro blogging: A Case Study of Chief Executive Election of Hong Kong by Yupei Zhao.

    You can download the full program here: 2014 Sunbelt Conference.

Are you attending the conference?

Feb 14, 2014 10:51 am

In 2005, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil ’gave a talk at a TED conference in California in which he proclaimed the following sweeping statement. 

              How many more years are we away from this?

Feb 09, 2014 3:07 pm

The increasingly trendy and luxurious Brooklyn is also one of the poorest. This infographic shows you why.

Its no surprise, that Brooklyn has been blowing up.  It shows up on just about every list of the trendiest and most luxurious places in the world. Jumping on the piggy back of these questionable accolades is the New York City real estate industry.  They have not hesitated to bring Brooklyn real estate prices to new shocking highs. As an unnamed Brooklyn resident once mentioned to me, “Its actually more expensive to live in Brooklyn now than it is to live in Manhattan.”

Yet the reality of the real estate wunderchild that is Brooklyn, is that its more poorer than you think.  A recent Slate article reporting on the new Census data found that, Manhattan’s median annual household income is $66,739, while Brooklyn’s is a mere $44,850.  Even the much less trendy, Queens has a higher household income with the median earning $54,373 per year!

In fact, high poverty rates are pretty rampant in Brooklyn.  The infographic belows does an excellent job of highlighting this poverty trend. 

So, next time you read about Brooklyn, just make note that millions of poor families have their own story to share. 

Poverty In Brooklyn: A Block by Block Analysis
Feb 03, 2014 5:47 pm

New Video Project: Hacking Justice: Immigrant Dreams and Access in the Electronic Age


I’ll be spending this Spring working on a short documentary.  This project will be supported by a Diversity Videography Fellowship.

Titled, HackingJustice: Immigrant Dreams and Access in the Electronic Age”, the initial idea for this short is to explorehow immigrant justice groups use technology to increase access to representation, legal assistance, and ultimately justice for immigrants? It also considers the challenges and opportunities that can give us a peak of what e-justice could look like for all of us in 5-10 years?

Below are some of my initial reflections of what the video should cover, but I am open to feedback and open to collaborators!  If interested, email me at: wilneida@gmail.com

Video Key Themes

1. Justice Crisis in the US: Constitutional guarantee of a lawyer does not apply to people fighting civil injustices - this disproportionately affects the most poor and marginalized groups, such as immigrant communities.  What does this mean for our country as a whole and our priorities when 80% of serious legal needs of the poor are unmet due to grossly insufficient financing. For example, the U.S. ranks 66th out of 98 countries in access to and affordability of civil legal services.

 2. The multiple barriers that immigrant communities face: Besides a complicated immigration system, thousands of immigrants face deportation and other legal issues without counsel.  The outcome of many of these legal proceedings can have serious and long lasting negative effects on the lives of many immigrants and their families. 

3. Beyond the sexy world of Facebook, Twitter, and other social technology innovations, there is an emerging group of social justice advocates working to utilize technology to increase representation and justice for immigrants.  These technology innovations are both exciting but raise many questions about usability and limits of technology to promote social good.  These innovations also give us a sneak look at what e-justice could look like for all of us in the future.”           

Jan 22, 2014 12:12 pm

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