An Open Knowledge Base for the National Broadband Project

by on July 26, 2007 · 5 comments

With the death of the last year’s video franchising-Net neutrality bill, Democrats have now firmly taken the reins on telecommunications policy in Congress. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii., has legislation designed to map out the availability of broadband, or high-speed Internet connections, in the United States, and it passed out of committee on July 19. Now, this week, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., announced an online effort to write national broadband strategy legislation. He will joined by several telecommunications and Internet experts in open-comment blogging sessions for four nights from July 24 – 27 at Durbin says he will be crafting legislation based on the input he gets during those sessions. He will then post drafts of that legislation online for more feedback before filing it as a bill.

The Well Connected Project at the Center for Public Integrity has been engaged in a joint effort with Congresspedia — we call it Well Connected on SourceWatch — to “map out” knowledge about the policy aspects of telecom, media and intellectual property at this portal. We “seeded” the portal with a variety of key articles, including broadband availability, digital copyright and spectrum policy. But anyone can read, edit and adapt these articles, and we welcome everyone’s collaboration!

Linking up these efforts is Conor Kenny, Managing Editor at Congresspedia, in this recent post:

Any good piece of legislation is built on a solid understanding of the available research and data. Sen. Durbin has enlisted several knowledgeable experts to help him in this project and there’s been some great discussion in the comments on OpenLeft. But comment threads can only go so long before the, well, threads get tangled.

So, to fully enable collaboration between all the Internet wonks, policy geeks and regular Joes and Janes out there who have some relevant information (or can find some), we’ve created an open knowledge base on the Congresspedia wiki for Sen. Durbin’s project.

While this project is new, it allows us to build on the many articles on telecom, media and intellectual property policy we’ve already built with the expert reporters at the Center for Public Integrity’s “Well Connected” reporting project, like those on spectrum, digital copyright, broadband penetration data and network neutrality.

We’ve also got experts like the Center for Public Integrity’s Drew Clark and Brendan McGarry, Free Press’ Tim Karr and Public Knowledge’s Art Brodsky making contributions, but in order to really pull this off we’re going to need a lot of you guys to get enough eyeballs to make this bug shallow.

Sen. Durbin’s staff has let us know they’ll be watching to see what we come up with. Hopefully the information we collect will be useful not only in drafting the bill, but also in evaluating the draft when it is posted online.

So come on in, the water’s fine.


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