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RADIO FEATURE SCRIPT
By David Ottalini
WAP VP for Publicity
Feature Title: Frustrated by your Computer? Try a User Group.
Talent: When Americans talk about computers these days,
they're also talking about the Internet. The Census Bureau says as of August
2000, 54 percent of all households in the US have access to a computer.
Four out of five households with computers has at least one person online.
And while the statistics reflect a rapid acceptance of computers and the
Internet, they don't indicate the frustration level users are feeling about
their machines in general.
MOS: (SOT: W-02 "trying to figure things out on my own
is frustrating and a lonely experience.")
Talent: People want to use their computers as if they
were appliances. Manufacturers sell them that way. But the reality is something
completely different. There's at least one instance of a user shooting his
computer when it didn't work right. And there are numerous web sites that
joke about the frustrations of owning a computer.
In fact, setting up a computer may be the easiest part of the process.
Learning how to use it and all the programs installed on it can be a daunting
Getting help these days from the manufacturer can be expensive. And all
the news about viruses, worms and hackers throws additional worry into the
mix. That's why user groups are becoming a growing force against computer
MOS: (MOS SOT: "its a collection of people who are knowledgable
about the hardware, the software. A lot of times you can't get an intelligent
answer to a question from a retailer. ")
Talent: Computer user groups have been around since the
earliest days of computing. PC, Mac, Linux, Palm, there's a group for every
taste and color. But that's no guarantee of success. Groups had had their
ups and downs over the years.
In fact, a number of the larger groups have goneunder thanks to bad management,
overspending and lack of support.
But things are changing - and user groups are taking center stage as a
way to focus support at the local level:
SOT: (Joiner SOT: "We all gain so much by sharing.")
Talent: Chuck Joiner is the President of the Hershey, Pennsylvania Macintosh
Users Group. He says user groups are no longer being taken for granted by
manufacturers like Apple Computer.
SOT: (Joiner SOT: "They're the people that are going
to go out and - to use a tired term - evangilize the product so that people
- other people that maybe wouldn't have considered them or taken them seriously
are going to look at them seriously.")
Talent: User groups are everywhere - in small towns,
college campuses, government facilities and large cities. Washington Apple
Pi is one of the largest Macintosh groups in the USA - they're based in
Member Jon Thomason says there's really only have one reason for having
SOT:(Thomason SOT W-03: "Washington Apple Pi
is a group where members help members learn about their computers.")
Talent: And President Lorin Evans says its that process
of learning that helps get ridof the frustrations users many times feel:
SOT:(Evans SOT: "The social nature of the group
makes it very comfortable for you to come ask your question - there are
no bad questions, there are no wrong questions and to get the kind of answers
that will help you move along.")
Talent:User groups offer members services that
include monthly newsletters, Internet and email services, recycling, repairs
and software/ hardware installation. There's even computer "garage sales"
and demonstrations by vendors. Tutorials offered by many groups are increasingly
SOT:(SOT : "A couple of evening sessions and
they'll teach you everything there is to know about your computer from the
user's point of view.")
Talent:Hershey MUG's Chuck Joiner says overall
- at least on the Mac side of users groups - members are doing a better
job of letting the public at large know what they are doing - and why. As
a result, people are joining.
SOT: (Joiner SOT: "MUGs have always been doing cool things,
it's just that it was a pretty well kept secret. And now MUGs are learning
about publicity and how to interact with the larger community."
Talent: And WAP's Evans says it's that interaction -
and support for members - that will determine the success - or failure of
user groups in the future: They are, he says, one way to help end the frustrations
that inevitably come with computer ownership.