Open Data on Net Neutrality: Help Crowd Source Analysis of Comments to the FCC

Yesterday the FCC released the public comments on Net Neutrality. The FCC has asked the public to help make “visualizations” to help surface substantive comments and key themes. Quoting the FCC:

“We recognize that not everyone may have the requisite technical skills to build visualizations and analyze raw XML data. (Members of the public will, of course, still have the option of reviewing and searching the record via ECFS). However, we’re hoping that those who do have the technical know-how will develop and share these tools for the public to use.”

Texifter has the right tools to allow anyone not versed in raw XML data extraction to search and code this data, then export the results as a CSV file including the relevant metadata. We have loaded the data and started a project using DiscoverText, which was built specifically for crowd source public comment review by US federal agencies.

We invite you to join our collaborative, web-based effort to find substantive comments and visualize what the public said about Net Neutrality. You can work directly with me and others to crowd source the review of the non-duplicate comments, or you can conduct your own parallel project with the same data.

To get involved, sign up for the free trial DiscoverText account and please note in the comment box that you want to work with the FCC data.

You might be interested in these preliminary stats based on what we downloaded yesterday:

  • 446,667 items posted to the FCC web site
  • 300,172 items after de-duplication
  • The largest group of exact duplicates is 105,320 identical items that say:

“Net neutrality is the First Amendment of the Internet, the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) treat all data equally. As an Internet user, net neutrality is vitally important to me. The FCC should use its Title II authority to protect it. Most Americans have only one choice for truly high speed Internet: their local cable company. This is a political failure, and it is an embarrassment. America deserves competition and choice. Without net neutrality, a bad situation gets even worse. These ISPs will now be able to manipulate our Internet experience by speeding up some services and slowing down others. That kills choice, diversity, and quality. It also causes tremendous economic harm. If ISPs can speed up favored services and slow others, new businesses will no longer be able to rely on a level playing field. When ISPs can slow your site and destroy your business at will, how can any startup attract investors? My friends, family, and I use the Internet for conversation and fun, but also for work and business. When you let ISPs mess with our Internet experience, you are attacking our social lives, our entertainment, and our economic well being. We won’tstand [sic] for it. ISPs are opposing Title II so that they can destroy the FCC’s net neutrality rules in court. This is the same trick they pulled last time. Please, let’s not be fooled again. Title II is the strong, legally sound way to enforce net neutrality. Use it.”

About Stuart Shulman

Stuart Shulman is a political science professor, software inventor, entrepreneur, and garlic growing enthusiast who coaches U13 boys club soccer and in the Olympic Development Program with a national D-license. He is Founder & CEO of Texifter, LLC, Director of QDAP-UMass, and Editor Emeritus of the Journal of Information Technology & Politics. Stu is the proud owner of a Bernese/Shepherd named "Colbert" who is much better known as 'Bert. You can follow his exploits @stuartwshulman.
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