This first article was written for the September 1997 issue of Australian "Country Music Capital News" magazine and designed for "newbies" to the Internet. Advanced users can however benefit from the links provided. You can surf your way from month to month or select from the main index.

CYBER COWBOY Cowboys In Cybersp@ce CYBER COWBOY

By BOB HOWE © 1997

If you haven't already experienced the World Wide Web you are probably wondering what all the fuss is about. Everywhere you look - newspapers, television and even Ads on the side of a bus - include the ever present internet address beginning with http:// or www. Even so, you might ask, what benefits has this new-fangled technology for the country music fan? The answer is …. plenty!

Without going into the technical details here, you have connected your home computer via the phone line to millions of other computers. You can "chat" to other fans around the globe; correspond by Email, or just browse the World Wide Web to share in the information and resources on offer. Each Website is like an interactive, electronic magazine: you can check the index for articles which might interest you; read the pages or just look at the pictures. Things get more exciting from there.

SCREENSHOT Some sites offer Samples of Music; Video Clips to watch on your monitor as well as Files or Programs you can download onto your own system. They also provide links, by highlighting/underlining text (called hyperlinks) to other associated sites. Jumping from "site to site" by clicking on these hyperlinks is why the term "surfing the web" was coined. A Word of Warning here. Surfing can make you lose track of time and your initial objective. As an example: starting at the excellent unofficial Emmylou Harris site created by Kate Derr, you might decide to check on the members of the Hot Band. "Click" on guitarist Albert Lee's name and you will be transported from Nashville to his page at the site run by Ernie Ball strings Music Man guitars. "Click" on Albert's Music Man stable-mates and you'll find Steve Morse of the Dixie Dregs. Next thing you know you could end up at the home page of Deep Purple with hard rock music coming out of your speakers (I know; it happened to me, but then I've always been musically adventurous!).

So what else is out there? There are many official sites run by record companies [such as Mercury Records in Nashville that offer previews of their artists' recordings by way of sound files and video clips. This year's Academy of Country Music Awards was previewed at the NBC site and fans were able to participate in an on-line Trivia Quiz, as well as Vote in a Special Poll for their favourite artists. Unofficial Websites are usually maintained by dedicated fans and can frequently offer more in-depth and interesting items than their official counterparts. Find out everything you could possibly want to know about Brooks and Dunn or Garth Brooks, or check out the Women Of Country Music site where you can enjoy a video clip of Lorrie Morgan and more!

SCREENSHOT

Fans of Australian country music need not feel left out. John Williamson has his own site as do several others including international star Frank Ifield , and the irrepressible Pixie . The CMAA feature many of their high-profile members at their site and the invaluable Directory of Australian Country Music has recently gone on-line. The global nature of the Internet is exemplified by noting that local star Wayne Horsburgh can be located at the American based site of IFCO (International Fan Club Organization) and at home at ShowNet.

The new frontier is no longer the "Wild West", but now the "World Wide Web"!

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