[clug] Linux Learners Group idea

Paul Wayper paulway at mabula.net
Wed Jun 14 23:02:39 GMT 2006

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Hi people,

At the Programmers SIG meeting, we had a very productive discussion led by
Chris Smart, Steve Jenkin and others about how to get people relatively new to
Linux interested in the powers of Open Source software.  Steve Jenkin posted
his thoughts about one part of the discussion, but as I haven't seen any other
parts talked about I thought I'd weigh in to try and keep the momentum up.

Chris Smart started with the vision in his head of a series of ads with the
slogan "Make Your Move".  (My thought was one of ten seconds of watching a
Windows blue-screen, and then watching a Linux user work with some of the cool
software we have, and just fade into the words "Make Your Move", but that's
another story.)  We also talked about the thoughts on the Computer Charity
people: that giving them Microsoft Windows is just giving them a dependency,
and it's the training that's crucial and not the software.  We generally
agreed that a lot of people are hungering for ways to get away from the
Microsoft Teat, but not a lot of opportunities for people to see and try the
various flavours of Linux and to learn more about them.

The CLUG meetings don't really provide this opportunity, and I think the
general consensus was that having an additional meeting at some time and place
as a sort of general install-fest cum troubleshoot cum 'simple howto' talk
made a lot of sense.  My experience with trying to get new people to do new
things is that you're far more likely to get good reactions from people who
already know someone there, so while advertising this in libraries, malls,
pinboards at work and other places is fine, bringing a friend along is
probably going to do more good for them.  Being able to give them a flyer with
regular times and dates on, perhaps on the label of The Open CD or an Ubuntu
or Kororaa Live-CD, would be clever, too.

The basic thought for the meetings was to have fairly simple talks about
various tasks we commonly want to perform.  Painting and drawing, writing and
spreadsheets, printing and scanning and importing pictures, playing various
games, getting computers to talk together, the big bad internet, simple
upgrades and security, that sort of thing - all with fairly minimal technical
details and focussing on getting things done.  If anyone uses a command line
they will be beaten soundly - this is really aimed at non-technical users.
That talk would go for about an hour tops, and then we'd have a hands-on
session for people to try things on different computers and distributions, to
practice what they've just learnt and to ask for help with things they're
having trouble with.

As Steve Jenkin explored in his document, there are a lot of reasons to move
to Linux.  He's got a really good point with "It's All About The Data" (which
I think he should trademark, just as Chris should trademark "Make Your Move")
- - what people are interested in is keeping what they've got and moving across,
rather than having to redo their entire contacts list and music files in some
new format, even if it is superior in every respect.  He also talks about
"paying it forward"; for me it's both forward and back, because I'm trying to
help other people learn from my mistakes and putting help into the community
that I know has helped me in the past and will in the future.

There are lots of points that I've glossed over or forgotten in there.
Personally I think there are two difficult tasks: starting it, and keeping it
going.  I think there are a lot of different organisations and people we can
learn from, but I think that we can also as a club make a direct contribution
to the progress of Linux by organising something like this, putting it up on a
Wiki (on clug.org.au?) and sharing it with other LUGs.  There were about eight
or nine people at the PSIG meeting involved in this discussion; hopefully
there are others in the CLUG who feel the same way and are willing to help out.

What I think we need to do from now is:

* Pick a time and place for regular monthly meetings.
* Organise the first three or four talks.
* Set up and start adding content to the Wiki.
* Make up a flyer that people can download from the Wiki and print out and
give to friends.
* Get the other points we talked about written into an email and posted.
* Start talking to your friends and family that might be interested in seeing
what this Open Software thing is all about and get them interested to come along.
* Start duplicating a couple of Open CDs and CDs of Ubuntu or Kororaa or whatever.
* Think up a name for the group.  We had a lot of discussion about coming up
with a name and couldn't agree on something that was simple and interesting
without being patronising or overly technological.  "Linux Learners Group"
wasn't a suggestion, it's just an subject line.

You, reader!  Pick one (or more) of these things and volunteer to do it!  Keep
the momentum up! :-)

Have fun,

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