The third way to make the customer smarter is by connecting customers into a collective intelligence.
When personal computers first entered the marketplace in the mid 1970s, user groups sprung up everywhere to assist the perplexed. Anyone could attend a monthly meeting and swap useful tips about how to set up a printer, or get an upgrade program to work. It was all informal, and free, and democratic; those who knew, told; those who didn’t know, asked questions and took notes. Each specific computer platform spawned local user groups in major cities. There were user groups for “orphan” equipment such as Amigas, and video game consoles, and of course for Macs and DOS-based PCs. Some user groups grew to have tens of thousands of members and some ran their own free software emporiums and had budgets in the millions of dollars.
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