Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Social Networks before Social Networks – CPCUG

Honored to be part of the Washington DC CPCUG’s - Entrepreneurs and Consultants SIG (E&C SIG)


I am thrilled to give a talk at the Entrepreneurs and Consultants SIG (E&C SIG) meeting on September 19, 2009. This gives me a feeling of both honor and nostalgia . Honor becuase this a body of peers and gurus who were meeting and helping entrepreneurs long before there were the social networks we know of today.

CPCUG's nearly 30-year-old motto is "Users Helping Users." Technology novices join to learn from techies, and to help each other as their knowledge grows.

Nostalgia because when I was contemplating changing careers this was a organization that was on the forefront and presented me with an opportunity for both learning and networking. I went to meetings at NIH where speakers educated you on a myriad of topics. Over the past ten years I have been a subscriber to the CPCUG mailing list and gained by it. I interviewed Barbara Conn who is a board member of CPCUG and also details of the event are below should you choose to attend.

Event Details:
Saturday, September 19, 2009, 12:45-3:15 pm
How To Get Business With Social Media
Check-In: 12:45 pm. Program: 1:00-3:15 pm

Cleveland Park Library
, 1st Floor, Large Meeting Room

3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Wash., DC

Details : http://www.cpcug.org/user/entrepreneur/index.html#meetings

Barbara Conn founded and chairs the Entrepreneurs and Consultants Special Interest Group of the Capital PC User Group, planning monthly event programs and workshop "extras," booking speakers, facilitating meetings,and creating and updating Web pages (http://entrepreneur.cpcug.org). She is also the volunteer Director of Communications for CPCUG, publicizing CPCUG events, training offerings, and community services via e-mail,Twitter (@cpcug), Web pages (http://calendar.cpcug.org), and flyers.

Increasing the impact of clients through writing, and related services, is Barbara's goal as a communicator, and also the mission of her company,Beacon Writing Services Corporation. As a magazine editor, she has planned theme issues, assigned stories, reported news, reviewed and edited manuscripts, and managed design, illustration, typesetting, layout,proofreading, indexing, and printing. Barbara has received awards for editorial services from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Among her many eclectic interests, she enjoys watching a good movie and Washington Wizards basketball games, and reading about advances in science and technology.

In another lifetime, Barbara earned a B.S. in chemistry from Bucknell University. She started her career by applying for and receiving a National Science Foundation grant for work in the Chemistry Department laboratories at American University. Barbara may be reached at bconn@cpcug.org. Her Twitter.com username is b_conn. For more information, visit http://www.linkedin.com/in/bconn.

A) How was CPCUG founded?

Barbara : Early in 1982, at a Rockville, Maryland, computer store, a notice appeared on an actual, physical bulletin board about an upcoming evening gathering for personal computer buyers. Rich Schinnell, one of the original members of the Capital PC User Group, who later served several terms as president, reports that he attended and participated along with seven or eight others. Mike Todd was elected president of the new Capital PC User Group. Jimmie Faris became the treasurer, Ted Landberg became the newsletter editor, and Wes Merchant became the bulletin board system (BBS) director. This group of four was the original Executive Board. Several special interest groups (SIGs) were organized and met regularly: Software, Medical, Games, Micronetwork, and Group Purchase.

General meetings with speakers on a variety of computer hardware and software topics were held monthly in the auditorium of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda. CPCUG members were encouraged to share knowledge by writing for the Monitor, CPCUG's monthly print newsletter. A software exchange was established for sharing public domain software programs among members before and after general meetings. Capital PC User Group, Inc., was incorporated in Maryland in 1982 as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational organization. Its purpose was and is to provide a forum for sharing information, experience, and resources among computer users, from novice to advanced. Although the group serves primarily the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, members are found around the world.

B) Would you consider this one of the earliest social networks?

Barbara :
With its in-person general meetings, Q&A sessions, SIG gatherings, and bulletin board system (BBS), the 1982 CPCUG was a social network in both the modern and classic sense. The Source and CompuServe provided earlier options for computer-based social networking.

C) Are there any plans to expand CPCUG?

Barbara: CPCUG will be surveying current, former, and potential members as part of the process of evaluating our membership benefit package. We do this periodically to keep up with changing times, changing technology, and the changing needs of members and potential members. After the survey process is completed, and the results tabulated and reported, we'll consider changes in our benefit package and possibilities for expansion.

D) What is the CPCUG Entrepreneurs and Consultants SIG?

Barbara : The CPCUG Entrepreneurs and Consultants SIG was founded in 1997 for a cross section of CPCUG members: computer consultants and entrepreneurs using computers. It welcomes those involved in small businesses either as owners or managers, independents, those just starting to think about venturing out on their own, and anyone interested in business, technology, and computer hardware and software selection, setup, installation, maintenance, and upgrade. Event attendees include new and seasoned business owners, new graduates starting their careers, those retiring from one career and considering a second career as a business owner, and others interested in the topic of the day.

Our monthly meetings are free and open to the public. Most take the form of a presentation or workshop with a guest speaker. We have occasional book talks by authors, or reviewers from our SIG. To encourage face-to-face networking, we have additional gatherings in a more social setting, such as a restaurant or pub. We also have occasional workshop "extras." These are usually on niche topics or topics nominated for repeat presentations. These are open to nonmembers as well as members and usually have a small fee, from $15 to $30.

E) What kind of folks would you advise should join CPCUG?

Barbara : Anyone who uses technology, or who might want to use technology, can benefit from membership in CPCUG. CPCUG is no longer just about computers, it's about all types of technology, including TV show production, student robotics competitions and science fair support, and mobile phone hardware, software, backup, and synchronization. As new leaders emerge, CPCUG transforms itself to meet the technology needs of new and potential members.

CPCUG's nearly 30-year-old motto is "Users Helping Users." Technology novices join to learn from techies, and to help each other as their knowledge grows. Techies join CPCUG to share information with and learn from other techies. A techie in securing computer hardware and software, for example, may be a novice needing help if called upon to produce a file requiring expertise in Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver, or another industry-specific advanced software application. In the process of helping others with technology, users enhance their teaching and mentoring skills and can benefit from valuable networking opportunities. CPCUG is also an excellent platform for developing resume-enhancing leadership skills and successes. CPCUG members who are the most active are likely to benefit the most.

Participation can take many forms, including asking and answering questions on e-mail lists and the helpline, attending face-to-face meetings and participating in Q&A sessions, networking and socializing after meetings, organizing meetings, taking a class, teaching a class, and repairing computers for Project Reboot, CPCUG's community recycling project.

F) Is there any membership fee?

Barbara: The membership fee for CPCUG, which provides free consulting services as part of the membership package, is still a bargain at just $42 per year. For more information about benefits, visit http://members.cpcug.org/benefits.html.

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