Every custom was once an eccentricity; every idea was once an absurdity. - Holbrook Jackson
Friends & Partners Demonstrate Internet Our Story: CCSI: Net Talk November 1995
As readers of Net Talk know, since mid-1994 Center for Civil Society
International has been a part of the Friends and Partners World Wide Web
site created by Greg Cole and Natasha Bulashova and first announced on
January 19, 1994. Friends and Partners has been recogonized repeatedly
as one of the best sites on the Internet.
While Greg and Natasha are not given to trumpeting their achievements,
preferring to work behind the scenes, some recent news from them warrants
First, Friends and Partners was recently chosen by folks involved in the
Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission to be demonstrated at the forthcoming meeting
between U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Cherno-myrdin. Friends and Partners is to be shown as an example of how
the Internet can be used to foster cooperation and exchange between people
in our countries. This is another tribute to the quality of information
to be found at Friends and Partners and should provide a good opportunity
to show the helpful uses of the Internet to leaders of Russia and the
U.S. The event will be held in late January or early February. CCSI will
provide more information when a firm date is set.
Second, Friends and Partners was recently awarded a grant from the US
State Department, most of which will go toward establishing and funding
(for one year) a Friends and Partners Support Center in Pushchino, Russia,
under Natasha's direction. The new center will employ four individuals,
two of whom will work full-time on Friends and Partners and two half-time.
Third, F&P received a grant from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) last year to improve the network infrastructure between Pushchino
and the larger Internet. Greg Cole now reports that the new
infrastructure (a 64K digital connection) is in place and is already
greatly assisting the Friends and Partners project. It is now possible to
keep the two principal F&P sites (in Knoxville and Pushchino) synchronized
with each other.
Finally, the University of Tennessee has just established the new Center
for International Networking Initiatives. Greg Cole left his position at
the University of Tennessee's Research Services in October to direct this
exciting new initiative.
The story of Friends and Partners is another example of what can happen
when strong personal commitment and imagination (Greg and Natasha's) are
married to a good idea. F&P began entirely as a hobby initiative, but
quickly drew support from the university systems in Tennessee and
Pushchino, from Sun Microsystems, and then from the U.S. government and an
international organization (NATO). Equally important has been the
participation of organizations such as Center for Civil Society
International (if we may say so!), which have helped to make Friends and
Partners the highly-visited Internet site that it is today.
As F&P has grown, it has become impossible to run it on a nights and
weekends basis. The combination of the grant from the State Department
and the creation by the University of Tennessee of a Center for
International Networking Initiatives will now allow a full-time and
professional approach to developing Friends and Partners. We at CCSI,
as well as Greg and Natasha, are excited about what this will make
possible. In their words:
"We recognize that Friends and Partners is, first and foremost, a community
of like-minded people who wish to share with, learn from, and work with
each other. This, perhaps more than anything else, distinguishes it from
many other Internet services. Our main objective now is to do a better
job of "growing" and supporting this community."
In announcing these important developments, Greg and Natasha reiterated
their "principal hope and goal," as stated in their first announcement in
We are especially hopeful that we can work together with many of you over
the next 2-3 months to ensure that when we soon have an opportunity to
talk with our countrysí leaders about the possibilities of utilizing
network and information technology to promote partnership and community,
that the story told is a good one and has maximum impact and
". . . that Friends and Partners will, at least in some small way, promote
better understanding between our nations by providing instruction on our
people and our cultures, by providing a common base of information about
issues affecting relations between our countries, and by providing a
common "meeting place" where folks can find and communicate with each
Friends and Partners Home Page can be reached at
Date: November 1995
The URL for this document is:
This document is accessible from the Center for Civil
Society International's home page at the Friends and Partners World Wide
Web (Internet) site.
The URL for CCSI's home page is:
For more information contact Center for Civil Society International at:
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Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
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