About the Herstory Project
Womankind graphicTechnical Notes by the CWLU Herstory Website Production Committee (2002)

Producing a website requires a variety of hardware and software harnessed together into a reasonably efficient workflow. The overall look of the CWLU Herstory Website is designed by Estelle Carol. Many of the production tasks are handled by her partner Bob Simpson.

Typically, Estelle designs the look of the web graphics and page templates (basic layouts used on a repeating basis) and then Bob puts in the content, which may come from individuals in the form of word processing documents, video tapes, audio tapes, photos, paper documents, or even handwritten notes. The web pages are created and then uploaded to a "test site" to debug problems.

Working on this project has taught us a lot about the importance of developing a collaborative team approach. A lot of what we know about web production has been learned "on the job" and from more experienced people who have been very generous with their time. While the networking of computers is essential, it is the networking of human minds and hearts that is truly the important factor.

Hardware: We use a mixture of newer and older equipment, some of it purchased used or refurbished, but still quite serviceable.

  • Computers: We have a network of 5 Macintosh computers. Two of our Macs are also equipped to run Windows. An upgraded Power Mac 8600 G-4 and a Power Macintosh G-4 handle the design, production and uploading of the site. An eMac and a Power Macintosh 8600 G-3 are used for scanning photos, digitizing and editing audio. A Netgear router connected to a Motorola cable modem allows us high speed Internet access. The router also functions as a "firewall" to keep hackers from breaking into our network and causing mischief.

  • Scanner: We have an Epson 636 scanner for digitizing photos, slides and documents. This scanner has Optical Character Recognition software which allows us to scan old documents and convert them to word processing text with reasonably decent accuracy. This way we can put 25-30 year old documents on the Internet.

  • CD-Recorders: We have two CD-ROM recorders which we use for making backups of the site files and to produce Chicago Women's Liberation Rock Band audio CD's.

  • Printers: An HP 6MP Laserjet handles our normal paper communication. An Epson Stylus Photo is available for color printing of Graphics Collective poster samples and photos from the site. An Epson Stylus Photo 2200 prints the Graphics Collective posters.

  • Video Equipment: Our Power Mac G-4 and our eMac are both equipped with digital video inputs that allow us to input and edit video from our Sony Digital 8 camcorder. A Panasonic S-VHS VCR and a Symphonic TV/VCR combo serves as our video viewing station. For tapes people send us, we use the XLR8 InterVu video capture device to get clips into our computer system. Since TV sized video is not practical on the Internet, we shrink and "compress" the video with Discreet Cleaner.

  • Audio Equipment: A Technics turntable, a Sharp audio cassette player and a Radio Shack mixer allow us to input audiotapes and vinyl albums into our Power Mac 8600 for sound editing. We converted the Chicago Women's Liberation Rock Band vinyl record to an audio CD using this system.

Software: Our software is pretty standard for web production

  • Design and Graphics: Web page "templates"(basic layouts used on a repeating basis) are first designed in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. Web graphics are created and processed in Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Fireworks. Our paper documents are laid out in QuarkXPress.

  • Web Page Production: Our main web page production tools are Macromedia Dreamweaver and BBEdit. We generate the basic layouts using Dreamweaver and handcode most of it in BBEdit. For our GrrlSmarts and Feminist Salon we use a content management system (CMS), called phpWebsite. Our newsletter is updated using a program called pMachine. Pages are tested in both Netscape and Internet Explorer. We have software called Virtual PC which allows us to run Windows 98 and XP on our Macs so we can make sure the site looks ok on PC's.

  • Word Processing: Our main word processing program for writing and editing new material is AppleWorks. We receive articles from people in a variety of word processing formats and use a program called MacLink Plus to translate them to a common format. To convert ancient printed documents to word processing format, we use OmniPage Pro. The documents are then checked for accuracy in AppleWorks. We use BBEdit to get rid of word processing "funny characters" which can show up on a web page as bizarre symbols.

  • Video Editing: iMovie and Final Cut Express are our video editing tools. Since TV size video is impossible over the Internet, we shrink and "compress" the video clips with Discreet Cleaner.

  • Audio Editing: We use SoundEdit 16 to edit sound clips. A utility called RayGun is useful for reducing the hiss, clicks, pops and background noise often associated with audio tapes and vinyl LP's. Like video, audio must be "compressed" to travel over the Internet and Discreet Cleaner is our tool of choice. To produce audio CD's we use a program called Roxio Jam.