History of this project
What people are saying
The Center for Cooperative Research seeks to encourage grassroots participation and collaboration in the documentation of the public historical record using an open-content model. New technology developed during the last decade has changed the nature of information production and distribution in two very important ways which are both fundamental to the Center’s objectives.
Firstly, new technology has decentralized the processes of information production and distribution, allowing the public to exert greater influence over the content and direction of the published historical record. Control of the production and distribution of information has slipped from the exclusive grip of large media conglomerates and is being appropriated at an increasingly fast pace by people at the grassroots level, whose previous lack of access to the means of information production and distribution prevented their ideas and knowledge from reaching the masses. This historically significant restructuring of the relationship between the producers and consumers of information is due to the fact that the dissemination of information to a large audience no longer requires large amounts of capital investment. Consequently, this process can no longer be easily monopolized, controlled, or filtered by a small elite group.
Secondly, Internet technology has created an environment where public collaboration in the production of information can take place at a level of efficiency comparable—if not superior—to that of the capital-intensive efforts of hierarchically-structured, private enterprises. This collaborative “open-content” model is politically and economically significant because it enables grassroots efforts to compete on a near equal footing with private industry while contributing to and enriching the intellectual commons.
Reduce the fragmentation of the historical record
The Cooperative Research website seeks to help reduce the fragmentation of the historical record by connecting events whose temporal and spatial relationships are often obscured by a mass of contradicting and disconnected literature, the biases of the media, and the tendency for important past events to be relegated to the annals of forgotten history.
Increase the efficiency of information acquisition
Another objective of the Center is to increase the efficiency of research by reducing the tendency for researchers to duplicate the efforts of others. All too often, researchers—largely because of a fragmented historical record—needlessly spend a significant amount of time and energy bringing material together and establishing connections, even though this work may have already been performed by someone else. By collecting a mass of well-cited “event summaries” and “entity profiles” in a database, with descriptions about the relationships that exist among them, this website should reduce the frequency of such occurrences.
Increase the efficiency of information production
This project is premised on the notion that collaboration in an online “open-content” environment can greatly improve the efficiency and quality of information production in the public sphere as it allows contributors to build upon and improve the work of others in real time as part of a global community. Furthermore, products resulting from such arrangements are inherently more democratic than those of the private sector as they are created by a much broader spectrum of interests and perspectives.
Encourage the transition of oversight responsibilities from governments to civil society on a global scale.
The Center for Cooperative Research calls on people to abandon the widely-held assumption that governments can be relied upon to competently monitor the activities of themselves or the entities with which they have close relations. A major goal of this website is to encourage people to play an active role in scrutinizing the activities of all individuals, groups and institutions that wield significant political and economic power. Our position is that the power of oversight should not rest with governments, but with civil society itself.
The content of this website consists primarily of timelines and profiles of individuals, organizations, corporations and other entities. Each timeline consists of a collection of dynamically-generated “event summaries” which include the date the event took place, a summary of the event, and a link to its primary and/or secondary sources. At the end of each event summary, there is a list of all entities which actively participated in the event. Each of the participants listed at the bottom of the entry is linked to a profile page which includes a description of the entity’s relationships with other entities, a list of all quotes associated with the entity, as well as a timeline of all events in which the entity actively participated. Some event summaries also have an “additional info” link, which when clicked displays a list of quotes related to that event.
The editing and submission feature of the website is still being developed. Once implemented, visitors will be able to add new information and edit existing content online using html forms. Visitors will also be able to create their own timeline projects. Projects, which are basically just collections of timelines, can serve a variety of purposes. For example, a project can serve as a place in cyberspace where people collaborate in a grassroots investigation of a certain issue or it can simply be the work of one person interested in learning more about a topic. The timelines can be compiled from new or existing entries.
Each timeline will be exportable into xml so others can use or add to the data for their own applications or for posting on their own websites.
History of this project
In late 2001, Derek Mitchell founded the Center for Cooperative Research with the specific aim of creating an online public forum where people could work together to document the historical record. His primary interest is in the development and promotion of systems—both technological and social—which decentralize the production and distribution of needed goods and services as a way to undermine the tendency for power and capital to become increasingly concentrated. He compiled the Iraq timeline and the Ousting of Aristide timeline in addition to the numerous outlines which were published on the earlier version of this website. He is a relatively recent graduate of James Madison University (1998, B. A. Anthropology).
In July 2002, freelance researcher Paul Thompson contributed his now-famous Complete 911 Timeline to the Cooperative Research website. His timeline is known far and wide and has had a major impact on public awareness with regard to the September 11 attacks on Washington and New York. The timeline is cited widely in the alternative media and was the major secondary source for several recent books including David Ray Griffin’s A New Pearl Harbour, a book referred to by historian Howard Zinn as “the most persuasive argument … for further investigation of the Bush administration’s relationship to that historic and troubling event.” Paul’s timeline was published as a book in September 2004.
More recently, in October 2003, Mike Bevin of Forgotten History joined the effort, developing the database application that now runs the Cooperative Research website. His website featured several timelines focusing on the numerous historical events that the US media and population have seemingly “forgotten.” These timelines now make up the History of US Interventions project.
On April 1, 2003, we launched the new dynamic version of the website. Ten months later, in mid-February 2005, we completed the beta version of the contribution system that allows people to add and edit timeline entries online.
What people are saying about the Center for Cooperative Research
From the acknowledgements of House of Bush, House of Saud by Craig Unger
“The Center for Cooperative Research is another valuable Internet tool. Because I made a practice of citing original sources, it does not appear in my notes nearly as often as it might. However, its timelines about 911 and related issues often helped me find exactly what I was looking for. I highly recommend it to anyone doing research on 9/11 and I encourage its support.”
From the acknowledgements of Cover-Up by Peter Lance
“As mentioned throughout, I was blessed in this state of my research with access to Paul Thompson’s remarkable timelines from the Center for Cooperative Research each citation in that database is supported by a news story from the mainstream media. … Any research, reporter, or scholar with an interest in the war on terror would consider the Cooperative Research timelines a bonanza of open source information.”
From the acknowledgements of 911 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions by David Ray Griffin.
“[M]y greatest dependence was on Paul Thompson’s timeline … [at the Center for Cooperative Research’s website]”
Visitors to the Center for Cooperative Research website.
“This site is so brilliant. Thank you for doing it!” – Suzanne DeBolt
“Your organization and your Web site truly realize the potential of the Internet for collaborative study, research, and understanding. This is one of the best, if not the best, resource on the Web for detailed, unbiased, and unfiltered analysis of recent events.” – Peter Orvetti
“… absolutely brilliant website, of great value to all! Splendid work.” – Nigel
“I just want to let all of you know what an absolutely amazing website cooperative research is. It has been the most informative site I have come across and I tell EVERYONE about it. I can not even begin to imagine the time and effort put into making this site what it is, and it amazes me how much it has grown over the past year (after finding it while doing research for an English paper for college.) Keep up the outstanding work, I can speak for many people when I say it is appreciated and making a difference.” – Amanda Rae
“…yours is the very best site I have found. And you gave me hope when it was hard to come by.” – Kathryn Welch, Blacksburg, VA
“I consider your project as one of the most important web-based projects aimed at combating what I call political amnesia.” – Morten Nielsen
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