Create your own Net content at Columbia


FROM: NewMediaSociety @ Columbia Law School

TO: The Community

RE: Learn to upload Net content quickly.

DATE: March 30, 1998


  1. The Service

    The NewMediaSociety is committed to bringing Columbia Law School online. We feel that there could be many more people in this school with a personal Web presence. The advantages are obvious: A personal web page is your business card to potential employers, your personal bulletin board to the world, your personal hub from which to send people to places you consider interesting and useful.

    This memo is to show you that it only takes 10 minutes to create a personal web page at Columbia. It's easy and with a little patience everyone can do it.

    There is also valuable information on this page:


  2. The How-To in a Nutshell

There are three basic steps to put content up: 1. You have to activate your Columbia cunix account. If you have already done that (e.g. because you are using PINE email), skip section 1. 2. You have to create content. On the Web, everything is about content. You can either convert existing content (papers, resumes, your first novel etc.) into web-publishable content or you can create new content.

3. You have to upload the content to the place on the Web that has been assigned to you. At Columbia, this will be your personal public_html directory that you will have to create.


  1. Activate Your Account

    To activate your cunix account, double-click the Telnet program on the LAW2 desktop screen. Click the "open" button and select "cunix". You will be asked for a login. Please type your full name there, i.e. first, space, last. If the system does not find your account, it will ask you to type "create". It will lead you through the rest of the process. You will be given a login name (consisting of your initials and a number) and be asked to create a password. The actual activation of the account should work overnight, but allow two days for it. Next time you log in, use your login name and your password. Now your account is active.

  2. Create Content

There are basically two ways to produce Net content. First, you do not want to rely on any software as it comes to your own content and you create all your pages in plain HTML. If you know already how to do that, you do not need this memo. If you don't: Don't try to learn HTML. It is a language in development, changes constantly and you will be online much faster by choosing the second way that is using (free) web-design software and learn the necessary pieces of HTML along the way.

All Web-design programs work alike. We recommend to start with an easy one and work your way up:

Not going into details, there are three main elements of a simple webpage:

  1. Text

    You can use the web-design program as a word processor and enter text on the "blank" new page. Note that font and paragraph formatting is somewhat limited in HTML. You can also copy text from anywhere on the web either using the design program as a browser or copy/paste from your browser running in the background. You can also use your old text files but you have to convert them into HTML as the design program only accepts .htm(l) files. Note that there is NO recommendable Word -> HTML Converter (guess why!). WordPerfect returns acceptable results. Sometimes it's even worth converting Word files into WP files, convert there into HTML and load into your design program. WP sometimes (!!) manages to convert footnotes to endnotes and put in the necessary hyperlinks between text and footnote automatically. Note however that sophisticated formatting in your original document might not survive the conversion into HTML.

  2. Pictures

    You might want to spice up your site with colors. You can change text colors in the Format menus of the design program you're using. You can change background colors or chose a picture as the background. Pictures are files with the extensions .jpg or .gif. You can either scan your own pictures (sign up for a time slot at AciS at Philosophy Hall) or use pictures available all over the Net (For people who believe in it: Make sure you do not violate anybody's copyright !). You insert the picture in your page by positioning the cursor where you want it and chose "picture" from the "insert" menu of your design program. It will ask you for the location of the picture and you either give a location on your h:\ drive if you have stored the picture locally or you give a web address anywhere and your page will load the picture in from there whenever it needs to do so (it's the world wide web, ok ?!!!). This way you insert all objects that have these file extensions into your page.


  3. Links, E-mail Links and Anchors

The Web needs links. They are the major navigation tools online. We strongly recommend to link your content as much as possible. The ability to jump from one word to another place on the Web where more information, a different view, a definition, or a related idea is located, is the true fascination of the Internet. If you do not encourage this, we might all find ourselves in a world in which access to online content only works through the major search engines - there we only see what they want us to see.

A hyperlink is the connection from document to another either within you site or out on the Web. You insert a link by highlighting the piece of text or the picture that should serve as the link and then choosing "Link" from the "Insert" menu. The program will ask you for the link location and you -again- either give the name of a file on your h:\ drive or copy in whatever link location. Note that when you use Netscape, you can easily copy a link location by positioning the cursor on the link, hit the right mouse button, and chose "copy link location". Make sure that you provide return-links to your starting page if you have many pages. It makes browsing your site a lot easier.

An E-mail link activates the mailto: function of HTML. If a visitor clicks on this link, a window will pop up that allows him to send mail to a specified address right away. It's nice to copy some little letterbox from anywhere on the Web to your page and make it an E-mail link. BUT: Do note use this extensively. Many people will not use their browser as their mail client and therefore cannot use this function. Be sure to give your email address in writing also, if you want to receive feedback or use mail forms in HTML (see for details).

Anchors are links within the same document. If you have long documents, you might wish to give readers the chance to jump back to the top of the text or to jump to footnotes. Programs vary slightly here, but usually you have to create a link at the starting point of the reference and instead of giving a link location you type in an "anchor name". Then go to the target point in your document and chose "Anchor" from the "Insert" menu. Then you give the anchor name that you were referring to in the link.


This is about all you need for a start. Just use the programs and you will find out a lot more, quickly.

     3. Upload

  1. Go to the Telnet program, open a "cunix" session, log in. There you have to create a public_html directory and make it publicly accessible:

    To do this, you must type three commands:

    $ chmod a+x ~

    $ mkdir ~/public_html

    $ chmod a+rx ~/public_html

    The above commands make your home directory (referred to as ~) world searchable, create a public_html directory under your home directory, and then make the public_html directory world readable and world searchable.

    Setting up your directory in this fashion means that other users can see the filenames in your public_html directory. Or, if you prefer, you can restrict access so that the list of filenames in your directory is not visible to other users. The files are still visible to any user that knows the filename. You can restrict access to your filenames by omitting the "r" from the third command above:

    $ chmod a+x ~/public_html

  2. Then open the FTP-program on the LAW2 desktop (double-click). You see a dialogue box in which you insert your log-in and password (same as in cunix). Then you see your local hard drive in the left window and your personal space on the Columbia server in the right window. In the left window, click through to the pages you want to upload (e.g. h:\docs\webfiles\). In the right window, double-click the public_html directory. Now you have you local web files in the left and your target directory in the right window. Now highlight the files you want to upload and click the arrow in the middle.
  3. NOW TWO IMPORTANT NOTES: (1) The Columbia server is key-sensitive (it's UNIX). Make sure that the names of all the uploaded files do exactly match the names you linked to when creating the page. While AOLpress sometimes changes keys in filenames you might have problems. E.g. if your homepage links to "Resume.htm" and your uploaded file is named "RESUME.htm" or "resume.htm", it will NOT BE FOUND. You avoid that by using only small keys when you link. When you upload, make sure that all files' names in the right window are in small key. If not, chose "rename" from the right toolbar and type in the name in small keys.
    (2) The first page a visitor sees when accessing your Website -the "homepage"- has to be named "index.html". Some web design programs (e.g. AOLpress) do not allow you to name a page *.html, but only *.htm. So you will save the starter page under some name and then, after ftping it over you rename it to "index..html".
  4. The final step is to make your uploaded files publicly accessible. Note that you have to do that (at Columbia) every time you upload - even the same file - again. To make files publicly accessible, go to Telnet (you can leave it open in the background while using ftp!) and type

    $ chmod a+r ~/public_html/filename.htm

    (or $ chmod a+r ~/public_html/filename.html, if it is a .html file)

    You do that for every file you uploaded. Note that you have to upload and make publicly accessible every single file you used, linked to or inserted into your pages. So, think of all pictures you refer to locally, all banners you inserted etc.

  5. That's it. Your Web address at Columbia is:>/.

    Anyone who types this into a Web browser now will end up at your index.html-file.

    III. More

These steps bring you online in 15 minutes. If you want more information on web design, webtools, and possibilities to improve your web presence, keep in touch with NewMediaSociety at as we will continue to show you how to do great stuff.

contact: Alex Cohen, Andreas von Bonin, NewMediaSociety 1998