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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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July 26, 2007 11:58 AM

Attempting to Open Debate Over Federal Broadband Legislation

I’ve been tuning in to the fascinating, though somewhat disappointing, experiment in social legislation going on over at OpenLeft.com.

On Tuesday, US Senator Dick Durbin sat in for an hour responding to comments/suggestions as to ways in which the federal government can be enacting legislation that promotes the deployment of broadband, competition between services, and fairness in the treatment of Internet traffic.

Half of his responses were pretty generic politix, but you could also tell he was really trying to engage with the debate, and there was a fair amount of quality posts made by the public.

Unfortunately, technological limitations hampered their ability to conduct a true debate. For example, you had to refresh your browser to get new posts (though there were helpful red “new” tags next to fresh content).

Last night, Ben Scott, Mark Rotenberg, and a couple of Durbin staffers manned the helm in a lively “debate” about net neutrality.

I put debate in quotation marks to describe this instance as I’ve always believed that real debates demand a more vigorous effort by both sides of an issue to put forth new thoughts that support their cases rather than endlessly rattling the same old thematical sabers.

The Internet needs to be free and open. Someone has to pay to support new network buildout. The big telcos are evil. The Internet guys don’t understand the potential unintended consequences of preemptive legislation.

Yet in many ways this lack of a true debate is indicative of a larger problem in our political system: how the increasing polarization of politics has led us to a mentality of us vs. them, black vs. white, if I’m right then you must be wrong.

I couldn’t be more excited about the potential for what OpenLeft is starting, leveraging the Internet’s inherent democratization to open more direct lines of communication between the public and Congress.

But as we explore these new opportunities at what they have termed “Legislation 2.0”, all sides of a debate must recognize the need to continue driving the conversation forward with new ideas rather than just shouting back and forth at each other without listening to and seriously considering the other side’s point of view.

Next week I’ll be diving into a number of policy issues as they relate to broadband in the hopes of accomplishing just this feat: establishing positions that don’t adhere to one side or the other of an issue but instead attempt to mine new ground in that space in between, which is where I believe the best legislative answers will ultimately be found.

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