Note: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has opened up the legislative process to direct suggestions and feedback from citizens over at the new OpenLeft.com site, where he has been live-blogging about a new, comprehensive Internet bill he is writing. This post is about a parallel project we've started on Congresspedia. Cross-posted at OpenLeft.
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, well, the 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 existing articles on telecom, media and intellectual property policy the expert reporters at the Center for Public Integrity's "Well Connected" reporting project have been collaboratively writing on Congresspedia, 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. This is a unique opportunity to put knowledge directly in the hands of someone who is writing a potentially era-defining piece of legislation.