On Sunday, September 9th, Cybergrass - The Bluegrass Music News Network will celebrate 20 years of promoting bluegrass music on the world wide web. What started out as a learning and research project has evolved into one of the most popular bluegrass web sites in the world. The site has a loyal following with many of the readers having been with the site for over a decade.
This year will also be the 16th year that the site has webcast the International Bluegrass Music Awards Show. The delayed coverage allows fans from around the globe to listen at their convenience to the big event in Bluegrass. Cybergrass was the first site to ever webcast an awards show (Grammys in 1995) and the only site to have carried the IBMA event every year since 1996.
Cybergrass, the world's oldest bluegrass music web site, changed over to a data driven format in July 2003. During that transition, they also changed our domain name to Cybergrass.com. Since then, the site saw explosive growth accumulating over 16 million page views since July 2003. The site recently upgraded again to its current format. What a wonderful way to celebrate 20 years of bluegrass information on the web!
The site's registered users access the site every day and at all hours due to its international following. Bob Cherry, owner of Cybergrass, credits the site's popularity and growth because of the vision and history of the site. The site has a history of "firsts" on the web and certainly in bluegrass. As Cherry says, "we're the site that others try to copy which, recently occurred when another site was copying every bit of content every day to their own. That means we're obviously doing something right." Cherry has actively been promoting bluegrass music for 20 years and that is a great testiment to Cybergrass and the wonderful service he has provided to the bluegrass community.
The site was one of the first 10 sites on the World Wide Web and has been in continuous operation for 20 years. Started on September 9, 1992 as a text only site on the Xerox server, Cybergrass has matured over the years to an international award winning site. The site has had five major facelifts and many web addresses since it was created. Cherry has seen a lot of technology evolve to where it is today. He says, "If I put up a site like the one 20 years ago, nobody would pay any attention to it. 20 years ago, there were no graphics, animations, embedded content, and the like. It was just simple HTML on a fixed browser background."
Cybergrass was first hosted on a Xerox research server that ran on a DEC Vax running BSD Unix. Today, it is hosted on a service that provides connections to all major backbone internet providers and 24x7 support. Keeping the site up has been a primary objective and the site has only encountered three outages in 20 years of operation.
Just a few of the accomplishments and achievements of the site are:
Cherry also created the original IBMA and IBMM Web sites. As the web's growth was unfolding, Cherry was instrumental in helping many others get started on the web and many of those sites are still operating today.
Over the past 20 years, his Cybergrass site has received awards including the New York Times best bluegrass site, SoftQuad's International Metalworker's finalist three years in a row, Main Street Earth Award, Sound Bits and Bytes site, Select site for Omega, Whole Internet Catalog, Magellan Review and Excite.
As Cybergrass creates or introduces new features, they are sure to pop up on other bluegrass sites -- sometimes the same day. The same is true for the articles that Cybergrass researches and publishes. Cybergrass has thousands of articles online plus reviews and other content.
Cherry says, "it really doesn't matter about the copying of the idea of a bluegrass news site. If what we're doing wasn't the best for bluegrass, others wouldn't be doing it too. The bluegrass community knows who brought much of this technology to bluegrass." Cybergrass has been a leader for 20 years and the amount of information on their site shows his dedication and love of the music.
Cherry says he is still reviews the logs for the site and utilizes business intelligence technology to monitor the articles, activity, ad clicks and other statistics. While much of the operation is now automated, it still requires checking in every day - 7 days a week -- to make sure its doing what it is supposed to be doing.
Cherry said the 20 years on the web has been exciting and rewarding. He's not sure what will be around the next bend but he's sure that once again, he will be diving into the world of innovation and creativity.
Cherry has over 40 years of information technology experience in research and engineering and holds patents on the Optical Mouse, Satellite Broadcasting System, and Low-Noise Active VLSI Testing. He has been published by the International Symposium on Test & Failure Analysis, Library Journal, EDGE and others. He was one of the founders of Airwavz National Broadcasting in the mid '80s which was eventually sold to another company. In California, he founded Robert's Tools and manufactured a novel and unique fastener and tool to insert them.
Cybergrass has grown and evolved based largely on reader input. It has exceeded all of the initial expectations for the site. Cherry would like to see more forum activity and comments on the articles but when its a hot article or subject, people do respond and almost always favorably.
The future of bluegrass on the Internet is exciting and Cybergrass certainly helped get it where it is today. The future looks even brighter. Cybergrass also has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Google where most of the main site's articles are linked.
Visit Cybergrass at either www.Cybergrass.com or www.BluegrassMusicNews.net - Where There's Always Something New in Bluegrass! Help Cybergrass celebrate 20 years. The clean, easy to read web site of bluegrass music.