[unclug] growing the LUG

Cristobal Palmer cmpalmer at ils.unc.edu
Fri Apr 28 17:57:47 EDT 2006

On Fri, Apr 28, 2006 at 07:51:24AM -0400, Todd M. Lewis wrote:
> I think there may be a couple of other factors. One is that, with the 
> growing capabilities of web hosted communities, there isn't as much need 
> for face to face contact among people with a common interest. Not that 
> face time isn't important or useful, but most everybody is already 
> plugged into one or more groups through the internet -- usually much 
> larger groups that you could hope to create locally.

This is true, but if you want to put Linux on your new CCI laptop and have
never touched Linux before, you're much more likely to do it if you have
somebody who knows a thing or two about Linux handy. I know I never would
have attempted it without the help of a friend.

It's precisely people like that who don't get involved if there's no LUG.
One could argue that these people aren't terribly important to the Linux
community, but I'd like to think I'm useful :)

> The second factor is that Linux is becoming too ubiquitous to compel 
> people to take the time to meet physically/locally somewhere.

Ever been to a TriLUG meeting? The room can get pretty full. This LUG
wouldn't have to hold meetings that often to be useful to its members.
NCSULUG provides other resources to its membership: IRC, login server,
installfests, etc. Besides... ubiquitous? In the server closet, maybe,
but how do college kids get exposed to it? I certainly didn't get exposed
to it in class.

> ...run into a technical problem with a $OBJECT, I'll keep your
> contact info handy."  

How would you meet people like that? A LUG is a great way to bring
people from different parts of the campus together. Different people
with different interests in Linux (distributed computing, database,
web, etc. etc.) are much more likely to share the cool stuff they've run
across recently if they have a chance to rub shoulders.

> ...North Carolina System Administrators meetings, though I 
> hardly ever go. (See <http://www.ncsysadmin.org/> if you're interested.) 

I was at their last meeting. There were maybe 10 people there. It was
a great presentation, but the low attendance made me sad, especially
because there were some questions that came up near the end that the
presenter was unable to answer. With a larger audience, the chance of
somebody knowing increases.

> I've subscribed to this list in case some local user asks about 
> something I'm familiar with and I can help him/her out, but that 
> _rarely_ happens any more. I'm already maxed out for meetings, 
> schedule-wise.

So stick to the list. When/if traffic increases, let's hope you can
help out :)

> What exactly do a local LUG and I have to offer each 
> other that makes it worth the effort either for the LUG or for me 

Social interaction with people of similar interests. We're at a major
research university, a supposed hotbed of innovation. Innovation
happens when you put a lot of smart people together and they interact.
Doesn't work so well when they all keep to their desks (or departments,
for that matter). We're in trouble if nobody sees the benefit of face-
to-face meetings. I'll try to list some benefits:

0) Make new friends
1) Gain trust in/from fellow LUGers
2) Sign keys
3) Swap hardware
4) Eat food
5) Introduce young/new people to uses/distros they might not otherwise
have thought of or tried.
6) There is no item 6.
7) ???
8) Profit!

I think item (7) may well be the most important. As much as google and
facebook and other online resources have changed the way we work, we
are social animals. There's something I can't quite put my finger on
that makes face-to-face meetings powerful.

> Besides, in a LUG meeting, I'd never ramble on this long. :-)

That's why you hang around after the meeting :) or... y'know... post
to the list. :)


Cristobal M. Palmer
cmpalmer at ils.unc.edu

internet equivalent of naked baby photos:

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