Why I (Still) Love Mac User Groups

I’ll be presenting my “State of the Apple” address at the Houston Area Apple Users Group (HAAUG) next Saturday, as I’ve done each year for a couple of decades or more.

If you’re not sure what an Apple User Group is, here’s how Apple’s User Group Resources web page describes them: 

People who use Apple technologies have joined together in user groups all around the world. Hundreds of groups offer members the chance to become friends with other Apple product users, get questions answered and have a lot of fun. Groups are for everyone from first-time computer users to experts—from every profession, background and age. Want technology to do more for you? Join the club. Find a user group near you. User groups offer exceptional benefits to members. As a Mac user, you can experience a feeling of connectedness by finding other Mac users in your community. Apple user groups are independent from Apple and run by volunteers.

Apple’s User Groups web page

Mac User Groups Made Me What I Am

I couldn’t have said it better myself. And, I wouldn’t be doing what I do today if not for Apple user groups. You see, when I got my first Mac way back in 1985, I had no idea how to use it, or even what I would use it for. My local Apple dealer pointed me at the Los Angeles Mac Group (LAMG) and I fell in love with user groups after one meeting. I had many questions and the volunteers were patient and helpful. The group also ran a “shareware library,” where I could acquire free and try-before-you-buy Mac apps for just the price of a floppy disk.

You have to remember that this was long before the Internet, in the days when almost all software was sold at retail stores like Egghead Software or CompUSA, and good advice was hard to come by.

Sadly, like retail software stores, most Apple user groups are struggling to survive in the Internet age. With easy answers available online, you might think there’s no reason to join a club or attend meetings, but you’d be wrong. And, you’d miss out on all the camaraderie and hive knowledge you’ll find at almost any Apple User Group meeting. 

When I began my career writing about Apple products a couple of years after joining LAMG, I knew I wanted to give back to the community. Since then, I’ve offered my services to Apple User Groups all over the world at no charge.   

Ask Me Anything

So, assuming you’re in the neighborhood, please check out one of my favorite groups, HAAUG on Saturday. The meeting is free and starts at 9AM at the CenterPoint Energy Community Center in Bellaire. My show starts at around 10:30 and we all go out for BBQ after. For additional details visit www.haaug.org.

One last thing: If you aren’t in the Houston area, you can find your local user groups at the Apple User Group Resources.

2 thoughts on “Why I (Still) Love Mac User Groups

  • Bob:

    Having never been part of a user group, I confess ignorance of what both draws and retains its membership; however I should think that a major driver, historically, was the need for technical assistance as well as how to get the most of out of one’s user experience, as well as to get a deep dive on specific subjects.

    All of that, thanks now to both the Apple Store and the internet, neither of which existed when many of these user groups first emerged, is readily available by other means to a broader swathe of the user community. Would it be fair to say that, not unlike what has happened to foot traffic through brick and mortar stores, these physical communities have been supplanted both by more impersonal virtual ones as well as Apple’s own technical assistance at a mall near you, and may suffer the same fate? I know for myself, TMO has probably served much of that function, despite my never having met any of its staff.

    My sense is, given Apple’s expanding user base, no less than its portfolio of products and services, that Apple-related appeal will only become increasingly diverse and possibly fractured not only by product/service but by generational cohort, ie which time period in Apple’s evolution did a given user enter the Apple ecosystem. If true, then there may be a renaissance of sorts for user groups, particularly as new products and services are released ahead of thorough or fully capable online assistance, though they may bear no resemblance or even apparent interest to those of a previous era.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.