“Enter to Grow in Wisdom. Depart to serve better thy country and mankind.”
Inscription on the 1890 Gate to Harvard Yard
Nowhere, it can be argued, that the spirit of nation-building and brotherhood is stronger than in the communities around Boston. Paul Revere’s historic ride, the shot heard round the world, the Boston Tea Party all comes to mind within a single ripple-wave of that town. Citizen soldiers believed the greater good outweighed personal gain. That spirit is as alive today as it was in Revolutionary Times. In 1977, Jonathan Rotenberg founded the Boston Computer Society that “…grew to become the largest personal computer user organization in the world—with over 30,000 members in all 50 states and 40 countries”. Although that founding organization is no longer, many user groups keep the spirit of Volunteerism alive today. I attended an outreach function of the Boston Linux/Unix (BLU.org) user group—their InstallFest XLVI recently where, early one Saturday morning, a simple chalk board lecture hall was transformed into a computer lab with wired and wireless connectivity to the Internet. Seven volunteer members descended on the scene with carts of computers, cabling, networking hardware, software, etc., all with the intention to help anyone who walked in the front door with their Installation of GNU/Linux Operating System on their personal computer. For a modest donation a technical expert well-versed in their field will sit down and install an elegant, powerful and nearly virus-proof GNU/Linux Operating System, configure it to your computer so that you lose nothing and send you on your way
Jill and Bob Miller in nearby Natick, Massachusetts offer free computer instruction every month at the Natick Senior Center to anyone, regardless of age. Free Instruction on the GNU/Ubuntu distribution of Linux along with a free suite of LibreOffice Suite software (LibreOffice Suite is fully compatible with Microsoft Office). The Boston Network Users Group (BNUG.org) user group offer monthly stimulating interactive lecture on computer security and how to keep your network free from intrusion are but a handful of the volunteerism activities all within that ripple of Boston.
You Can Get There From Here…
Norfolk Community Television’s production of ‘On Your Computer’ attempts to capture that spirit of volunteerism and incorporate it with instruction for the novice and direct those well-versed with that medium to user groups where their thirst for added knowledge can be quenched. In its 30-minute show format viewers in Shows 1 thru 4 are informed how to use, how it applies to the real-world and are given a sense of perspective for what is happening in the computer driven world beyond. In the shows moving forward it keeps the novice in mind with 8-minutes of what you should know (as a responsible computer user) on your desktop while the remaining two 8-minute segments are devoted to extending their knowledge (password protection schemes, social media caveats, virtualization, high performance computing, artificial intelligence, to name a few of the topics it will explore). Utilizing guest speakers the volunteer staff at NCTV will bring snippets of these topics together into our show with linkages to join the discussion or a suggested visit to this user group. The ‘On Your Computer’ show will assist you to get there from here!
One might question the disparity between volunteerism in times of war and that of the user group phenomenon. The message here is not the circumstance but the individual stepping forward to say, “If I do this then we will all be a little better for it!”