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Welcome to the Center for Cooperative Research forum. This forum is intended to enable additional collaboration and facilitate the sharing of information, which is what this site is all about. Any questions / suggestions / criticisms regarding the site in general are also welcome.

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Financial Matters
Posted by: stephen (IP Logged)
Date: July 10, 2004 05:54PM

A couple of points on this important topic:

1. If Cooperative Research is really cooperative then we need some accountability. I have already sent $25, but I'd like a budget on the website before donating more and asking others to donate. What exactly is the money paying for? Purchasing bandwidth? Purchase of software? Labor time? Are you raising money for future plans? "We need money" is not sufficient. Your work is worth supporting - but we have to have accountability.

2. Why has Cooperative Research expanded its research domain beyond 9-11? Was there some public demand that cooperativeresearch.org specifically take on these new, time-consuming tasks? Was it wise to grow without stable financial backing? Will the enterprise be shut down ENTIRELY if there isn't sufficient resources to support all the new timelines and other doodads?

3. And finally - and you knew this was coming - all this points to the issue of governance. If this is democracy in action, then how is democracy made manifest? Do you have to learn how to use the software to participate fully in the site? How about other functions like promotion and fundraising and research? In a way, I liked the site better when it was simple and simply about 9-11.

response to Steve's questions concerning how money is to be spent
Posted by: derek (IP Logged)
Date: July 10, 2004 11:26PM

Stephen,

Thanks for your questions (and your donation). I have done my best to answer them. If you have any additional questions or suggestions, feel free to post them.


1. I'd like a budget on the website before donating more and asking others to donate. What exactly is the money paying for?

- Website expenses:

These currently amount to a little more than $100/mo. We currently are upgrading to a dedicated server and once this is complete we will be able to cancel one webhosting account and reduce this expense by roughly 30%. However, this expense could also increase if we need to upgrade to a faster CPU, add memory, or require the regular services of a system administrator.

- Labor:

The service we provide is extremely labor-intensive. This would not be a problem if the various tasks were evenly divided among a large pool of people, as originally intended. But since 99% of the work is done by just three people, compensation is indeed a critical issue. Paul and I work more than full-time (60-80hrs/week) on this while Mike does the programming each night after working at his full-time job. We are hoping that after Mike completes the software application, more people will contribute their time and labor since the application will make it easier for visitors to submit timeline entries.


- Hoped for min. budget:

$100K

$2K - Server and other website-related expenses.
$50K Research and writing. Salaries for Paul and myself
$25K Technical. This would allow Mike to quit his job and work on this full-time so he could complete and then improve upon the database application and handle all other technical issues.
$23K Other.
* Full-time/part-time help with administrative tasks - returning emails, basic website maintenance, networking, coordinating volunteers and timeline contributors, verifying integrity of data submitted, etc.
* consultation, legal and financial (we would like to incorporate as a non-profit)
* computer repairs, software, etc.
* system administrator.

Comparison:
Anti-war.com has an annual budget of between $150-200K/year. The website posts daily links to mainstream media news stories and features original op-ed pieces.


-- Current Funds

As of this date, we currently have $4054.05. This amount has been raised entirely from funds donated to Cooperative Research from website visitors since January 2004. Roughly half of this has been raised during the last 5 weeks. Paul, Mike, nor I have withdrawn any money this year. The only outflows have been for website expenses. We are expecting $2500 from a person who sponsored the upcoming “Bush's environmental record” timeline. We may also receive $2000 from Citizen's Watch to add entity-relationship mapping to the 911 timeline.



2. Why has Cooperative Research expanded its research domain beyond 9-11? Was there some public demand that cooperativeresearch.org specifically take on these new, time-consuming tasks?

Actually, Cooperative Research has never been exclusively a 9-11 site. When the site went live in Spring 2002, it included outlines on 911, Iraq, the Philippines, Indonesia, the Caucasus, US post-911 policy, the 2002 Israeli West Bank invasion, as well as several other topics. The primary aim of this website has always been to create a space where the public can initiate and conduct investigations at the grassroots level. Our position has always been that in order to create a more democratic and just world, we need to decentralize the process of information production and distribution. Paul's 911 timeline is a case in point that a grassroots investigation can pose a direct challenge to a corrupt government. By focusing on this broader goal, instead of the investigation of a single topic, we are creating conditions that we hope will increase the public's power vis-a-vis that of governments, corporations and the like.


Was it wise to grow without stable financial backing?

Honestly, I don't know:) I guess only time will tell. I looked for help prior to beginning the website and consistently found that people wanted to see something first. Another factor that made it difficult was that I was relatively fresh out of school at the time and lacked connections to, or support from, any prestigious names. I decided to go ahead with it because I thought it needed to be done.


Will the enterprise be shut down ENTIRELY if there isn't sufficient resources to support all the new timelines and other doodads?

Keeping the current content on the site should never be a problem as website hosting expenses do not amount to much.

There would be no new timelines unless someone else volunteered to take over without pay.

Paul's timeline book is scheduled to be released in September and hopefully that would provide enough to keep him going (if we do not raise enough). Though he too is suffering from the compounded effect of working for free.

I'm not sure what you mean by "doodads." As I said, an incredible amount of time and effort have been put into this website - and at a considerable sacrifice. The new features that have been made available by moving the content to a database greatly increase the usability of the data for purposes of analaysis and presentation.

3. And finally - and you knew this was coming - all this points to the issue of governance. If this is democracy in action, then how is democracy made manifest? Do you have to learn how to use the software to participate fully in the site?

Using the application to submit timelines and timeline entries will not be difficult. Anyone accustomed to filling forms online will be able to use the site with ease.

How all of this relates to democracy is explained above and in the "about this site" page.


How about other functions like promotion and fundraising and research?

I'm not sure what you mean by this in the context of democracy.

Re: response to Steve's questions concerning how money is to be spent
Posted by: stephen (IP Logged)
Date: July 11, 2004 08:34AM

Thanks for your extensive reply.

I want to make it very clear that you have my appreciation and support. And come next paycheck, I'll send another donation. I do have to acknowledge, however, that donations like mine will probably never amount to the $100,000 goal. You'll likely have to apply for grants or ally yourselves to other institutions (like Citizens' Watch)... and that has its risks.

Also to clarify another point... My question about "promotion and fundraising and research" was about other tasks for those not so computer-literate who want to participate in some way. But you answered that question: the system should be easy for nearly everyone to use (once it's running).

Finally - and most people may not be aware of this - this site is indispensible for several reasons.

1. We know that most of the capitalist media (and that includes PBS, NPR, BBC, and CBC) won't question the official story about 9-11. Even if they bring certain facts to light, the capitalist media deceitfully contextualizes the facts (or just buries them) to reinforce the ludicrous official narrative.

2. We know that many of the liberal-left "alternative" media (such as Pacifica, especially Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now!", The Nation, The Progressive, In These Times, Z Magazine or zmag.org) won't question the official story about 9-11. Indeed, Amy Goodman and Michael Moore seem to be pushing a dangerous line that "Saudi elites did 9-11," and that will likely become the official liberal justification for a future US imperialist war.

3. We know that there is a popular anti-Arab racism and anti-Muslim bigotry that enables public gullability and informs their willingness to believe the official story to a large extent.

4. We know that among the 9-11 skeptics, many are reactionary hate-mongerers who make statements like "The Jews did it" and "The UN did it"; they also deny the Nazi holocaust, accelerated climate change, and the rights of various peoples inside and outside America's borders. Rense.com is a classic example of white-supremacist and otherwise reactionary politics that feeds on public suspicions about our overlords. The suspicions are right-on, but the agenda that harnesses them can be as terrifying as the reality of capitalist-imperialist fascism.

5. That leaves resources like this one. It's not sectarian or flashy. It presents each of us with the truly free choice, the existential and ethical reponsibility, of making sense of facts that are presented matter-of-factly, without clever cut-aways, editing, music, and the like. The timelines aren't histories, but they are the indispensible raw materials for fresh re-appraisals and honest critical inquiries about the events of the recent past. Democracy and justice and freedom cannot exist without "honest critical inquiry"... and it for that reason, we must support this website.




Re: response to Steve's questions concerning how money is to be spent
Posted by: derek (IP Logged)
Date: July 11, 2004 11:30AM

Steve, thanks for your support and for taking the time to comment on the site. Your first four points provide a good summary of the challenges we face in our collective efforts to provide the mainstream public with a more accurate understanding of the attacks. Another difficulty we face is the mainstream public's apparent inability to question the myth that government leaders and the capitalist elite do not use their positions of power to promote their interests at the public's expense. Though the timeline entries contain just the bare facts - with links to primary and/or mainstream secondary sources - we still receive emails from people referring to us as "liars." They argue that our "leaders" would just never do such a thing. Another reason for including timelines on other topics is that it allows people to see that the government's complicity in 911 is not an isolated event, but rather just another example of a powerful ruling elite pursuing its interests at our expense.

Re: response to Steve's questions concerning how money is to be spent
Posted by: roper (IP Logged)
Date: July 19, 2004 04:35AM

I am aware that an immense amount of labor is necessary to create and maintain such a site, and I find Paul's timeline extremely useful (I never understood what Paul did for a living, working on this timeline for free...). But I am not sure how the funds necessary to secure the future of this project can be gathered.

I am sure you know democraticunderground.com. They do "fund drives" four times a year, and they also currently employ 3 persons fulltime. For the last fund drive they published the budget, their number of log-ons per day, and so on. The key for their success is the very high number of visitors. They have nearly 50,000 registered user names (of course, far less real people are regular visitors, but it must be still be a large crowd). But it is still hard for them to achieve their goals.

Is there a way to achieve comparable number of visitors? As Paul posts his results there, perhaps an agreement with democraticunderground is possible (they could, for example, place a permanent link to this project on their site, for a few bucks).

I guess the competition for funds is hard for web sites, but I wish you luck.



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