Womankind graphicTechnical Notes by the CWLU Herstory Website Production Committee (2000)

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. Other people on the Website Committee can view the test pages to catch errors and offer suggestions for improvement. When people are satisfied that the pages are OK, they are uploaded to the "main" or "public" site.
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 mostly older equipment, some of it purchased used or refurbished, but still quite serviceable.

  • Computers: We have a network of 4 Macintosh computers. Two of our Macs are also equipped to run Windows. Two Supermac S900 G-3's handle the design, production and uploading of the site. One of the Supermacs is also our video editing station. A PowerCenter 132/375 G-3 is used for scanning photos, digitizing and editing audio, and making CD-ROM's. A Power Macintosh 7100/80 connected to a Motorola cable modem allows us high speed Internet access. This computer 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-Recorder: We have a Yamaha CD-ROM recorder 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.
  • Video Equipment: One of the our S900's is equipped with a MotoDV "firewire" card which allows us to input and edit digital 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 on our PowerCenter after it has been edited.
  • Audio Equipment: A Technics turntable, a Sherwood audio cassette player and a Radio Shack mixer allow us to input audiotapes and vinyl albums into our PowerCenter 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 most of the necessary computer code using Dreamweaver, but if any of it needs to be hand "tweaked", we usually do that in BBEdit. Pages are tested in both Netscape and Internet Explorer. One of our SuperMacs has a program called Virtual PC which allows us to run Windows software and test our pages in Windows.
  • Word Processing: Our main word processing program for writing and editing new material is Clarisworks. 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 Xerox Textbridge. The documents are then checked for accuracy in Clarisworks. We use BBEdit to get rid of word processing "funny characters" which can show up on a web page as bizarre symbols.
  • Video Editing: Adobe Premiere is our video editing software. Since TV size video is impossible over the Internet, we shrink and "compress" the video clips with Media Cleaner Pro and the Sorenson Video Developer edition.
  • 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 Media Cleaner Pro is our tool of choice. To produce audio CD's we use a program called Adaptec Jam.

  graphic by Estelle Carol