Mar 5, 2013

Connect Us



We started this journey back in November a little unprepared for how big the issue of connectivity in America is. I was certain there was a small story to be uncovered about how nice it would be to have internet everywhere, but the farther we drove the more there was to learn.

On our way to Portland, OR I was listening to a Podcast about broadband and Mary Beth Henry was being interviewed about some of the ways the city is working to bring more people online. Thinking she might be able to direct me to someone in Portland interested in talking to us, I quickly emailed her and didn't think much more about it. To my surprise she replied, and after we met I suddenly had five other people willing to be interviewed. Our week in Portland became a bruising lineup of interviews-- three and four a day until we had to leave. If only I'd known, we would've blocked off a month to stay.

In the process we were introduced to a group dedicated to promoting open robust internet infrastructure, and they gave me a crash course in the history of the web. There were days I would return from a string of interviews completely exhausted from information overload-- our efforts in packing all this into a relatable and understandable film felt nearly impossible. Just over a month later we've made the drive all the way up past the other Portland in Maine, and in the process have seen a lot of what they were talking about in action. In Kansas City we were able to put our hands on gigabit connections and in Cooper, Maine we were struggling with .01 Kbps. A lot of what they told us sunk in as we felt the impact first hand.

Now we've completed the research arm of this journey and are working to lay out a plan that will guide us through the next phase. I've put together a short video using some of the footage we shot to frame up the argument and make sense of what we're facing. For now it's still rough, but in the coming weeks we'll be finalizing our plans to move forward.

To start with, we're ready to put this effort under a title: Connect Us. The stories we've encountered are fundamentally about people connecting with one another through this state of the art infrastructure, and we wanted the title to reflect that. Also, because our story will be about America's struggle to figure this out, we found the "us" carries a double meaning.

So here's the first look at what we've done so far, and soon we'll be announcing how we plan to take this into a feature film.