Building User Communities (long)

From: Uncle Roger <>
Date: Fri Jul 4 12:54:05 1997

At 02:04 PM 7/3/97 -0700, you wrote:
>of the fun is sharing it with other TI users. And part of the fun of
>having this old computer is that there are other people bucking the
>trend along with me. In other words, we have a TI computer user
>community, and that is a very hefty reason for sticking with the TI
>exciting new "modern applications" or attracting new people to adopt a
>simple machine that can perform "common everyday household computing
>tasks" that they DON'T need a Pentium to do.
>hoping to create a dialog for HOW to do this, particularly strategies to
>attract people to join the community, and to share technology of "modern
>applications" that one community may have successfully achieved and
I am facing a similar situation in the Atari community. I have to admit
that I gave away my 600XL in favor of the ST long before the thought of
collecting computers ever hit me. Similarly, my ST's and Falcons are pretty
much dedicated to studio stuff (and I don't get to "play" with that much
these days) and I use my windows laptop almost exclusively (6-16hrs/day).

Nonetheless, I am president of ABACUS, the Atari Bay Area Computer Users
Society, and probably will continue to be for a long time. Atarians are
somewhat lucky in that there is a reasonably strong vendor market, good user
groups, and wonderful emulation options.

Still, ABACUS has been experiencing a seriously declining membership
recently as people traded in their ST's for PC's. We talked about it, and
decided that what even the PC people didn't want to lose was the "family" we
had built up in the club. There are lots of PC user groups, but none with
the character of ABACUS. (How many clubs have a Land Rover owner, a waffle
collector, and a 76 year old newsletter editor?)

So we changed a bit to meet the new focus of the club members. We now have
a "PC SIG" and demo PC software and hardware at the meetings, along with ST
stuff. We feature general interest (computer) articles in the newsletter
(such as my never-ending part 2<x> of my 3 part series on building web
pages) as well as humour and general commentary. We continue to support the
ST/Falcon folks as we expand to service the new interests of members.

This lets members move on to newer things (graphical web browsers (yes, we
know about STiK/CAB, but it's not netscape), CD-ROM's, etc.) while still
keeping the ST alive.

But, we've not done much about getting new members (either PC or ST). Your
message has gotten me thinking, though. Every now and then I get a call
from someone who's got an ST for sale, and I have to tell them there's just
not much market for them here. Perhaps we could set something up to get
those machines into the hands of someone who could use them and is otherwise
unable to afford them. (Goodness knows we've got enough kids with no $
around here!)

The biggest hurdle facing the general public in putting older computers to
work is the lack of support. (P.S., Cliff Stoll is an idiot sometimes.)
They can buy a PC at Circuit City and half their neighbors will be able to
set it up for them or answer questions. (Etc.) Not so with machines not
quite so mainstream.

But if user groups made the effort to become known and to support these
computers, they could do a lot of good. Maybe even working with teachers or
youth programs to make the computers available, and the kids *WILL* use
them. I've seen it happen and I know it makes a difference. (My living
room is loaded with older Macs -- until school starts again.)

Anyway, sorry to blather on so long, but I think that "obsolete" computers
are still useable, valuable, and beneficial. So lets talk about turning
people on to them!

--------------------------------------------------------------------- O-

Uncle Roger "There is pleasure pure in being mad that none but madmen know."
Roger Louis Sinasohn & Associates
San Francisco, California
Received on Fri Jul 04 1997 - 12:54:05 BST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Oct 10 2014 - 23:30:26 BST