response to Steve's questions concerning how money is to be spent
Posted by: derek
Date: July 10, 2004 11:26PM
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.
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:
$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.
* 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.
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 Paul, Mike, nor I have withdrawn any money this year.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.