If you’re like me you might be spending way, way too much time glued to your computer screen learning about Adobe’s tools and technologies. To give you an idea how much time I sit on my buns here in my home office learning our cool tools, I go out and purchase a new home-office chair each year since I wear and tear the heck out of them from Adobe tool learning overuse! So if you haven’t seen the sun or the moon in a few months, or noticed your kids have grown three inches since the last time you saw them you might want to check out another cool way to learn about Adobe tools and that is attending or even starting your very own Adobe User Group.
Adobe User Group meetings take place world-wide each month and are a fantastic place to not only learn about our tools they are also a great place to meet like-minded souls “in-person” who are interested in the same Adobe tools and technologies you’re interested in. They’re also a super place to locate freelancers if you’re interested in say hiring someone to add some Flash to your Dreamweaver site or optimize a ton of .JPG images with Photoshop. The reverse is also true. Many times attendees at Adobe User Groups are freelancers or contractors and they let other attendees know they are available for freelance work if they are looking for a job or project.
Over a decade ago I started a user group in Los Angeles, CA called the Macromedia (acquired by Adobe a few years back) Director User Group. I mentioned the idea of starting a user group to a follow Director enthusiast over coffee one day and we decided to go for it and start one. Within three months we had a mailing list of over three hundred people who signed up for it and our monthly meetings drew on average around sixty attendees every month. I hosted the meeting and had a blast running it for over three years including inviting guest speakers to come and share with the group the latest and greatest Macromedia tools.
One of my all-time favorite meetings was when I invited a Macromedia evangelist, Ralph Mittman to come speak to our group about some silly new tool called “Flash” I had heard about. I remember well all of us scratching our heads during Ralph’s demonstration and wondering why the heck Macromedia purchased this oddball tool (formally called “Future Splash”) and what on earth we’d use it for? Little did we know or foresee that this so-called silly tool would totally usurp Macromedia Director and revolutionize the web within a few short years.
All of us sitting there ended up being the early adopters of Flash and we most likely would not have gotten into it so early if we hadn’t had Ralph come and share with us what it was and how it worked. Bottom line, user groups are many times where revolutionary technologies are first shown to people before they become widely known to the general public.
How do locate or start an Adobe User Group in your area? Simple. Check out the Adobe User Group page here and do a search for one in your area, or sign up to start one if one is not present.
Of special note to educators most schools are more than happy to make an empty classroom or auditorium available once a month to host a user group meeting.
Do keep in mind as a host of a group you will be called upon to manage a mailing list, create a web site for the group, and get the word out about your meetings and more. While running a group can be super fun to do you’ll for sure want to be realistic about budgeting time each month to market, manage and host your groups meetings. A good rule of thumb is to email host of successful current Adobe User Groups and learn firsthand the best practices of starting and running one.
Richard John Jenkins