[clug] Declining attendance?

Robert Edwards bob at cs.anu.edu.au
Sun Oct 14 17:43:41 MDT 2012

On 03/10/12 21:54, Paul Wayper wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Hi all,
> One thing that people have commented to me about, and has also been an issue
> raised at the monthly inter-LUG discussion meetings online, is the declining
> attendance at actual CLUG meetings.  I blame myself partly for this - there
> are a number of things I should do (get the new site software set up, keep
> the speaker schedule up to date, etc) that I'm just not putting a high
> enough priority to get done.
> But it occurred to me that one of the reasons people come to LUG meetings is
> for the ability to ask people questions that are stumping them.  And,
> coincidentally, I've had several people email me in recent months asking for
> help with Linux problems because they've found my email address on the CLUG
> website.  I've tried to direct them to the list, partly because I'm fairly
> busy trying to keep up with the things I'm doing as it is without paying
> house calls or doing personal tech support, but mainly because I believe the
> community of people online is greater and we're all enriched for the kind of
> questions and answers we see on the list.
> However, is there any interest in having regular meet-ups where people bring
> their computers in and we try to solve problems related to Linux and FOSS?
> I'm thinking mainly of a part of the regular monthly meetings, but if there
> was enough interest a separate meeting (or using the PSIG night) might be
> possible as well.  We've done this occasionally with Install Fests - just
> extending the concept of 'install' to 'fix problems with' :-) - but those
> are special events that I don't think work well to fix everyday problems.
> I know this won't work for every problem.  And I don't want it to get in the
> way of the regular talks or the general socialising at the meeting.  But in
> the past this has been done for some people with a fair degree of success.
> What does everyone else think?

Hi Paul (and list),

I think this could be a good thing to do. I wouldn't be so concerned
about such "Fests" getting "in the way of the regular talks..." - we
could have combined talk and Install Fest time at (some/all) of the
regular meetings.

There are, of course, other underlying issues here. One that I am going 
to pick on, that you have identified, is the speaker schedule. In my
mind, a real issue. This mail list gets sent (two) e-mails each month,
invariably with something like:
"Currently there are no talks scheduled. Would anyone like to
volunteer?". For those "in the know", we usually just ignore this
message, but for anyone looking to find a Linux/FOSS group, these
messages would be quite a testimony to the parlous state of the group.
In my mind it would be better to not send out anything than to regularly
remind people that the meeting is possibly going to be a waste of time.

As others have said, with social media/search engines, people can
generally solve their Linux/home computing problems without having to
give up an evening and come along to a physical meeting. So, if we are
to have meetings, they need to be worth coming to.

I would agree with others that PSIG may have run it's course for the
time being. That said, I don't think we should shy from discussing
deeply technical things at the main meetings, as long as the
speakers/participants are happy not to talk in code (excuse the pun).
Often times even I get lost in the "in-knowledge" jargon of a small
group of vocal people at the meetings who seem not to understand that
they need to explain stuff at a slightly more accessible level. Maybe I
am one of them. Maybe it is some sort of retarded alpha-male thing
whereby (some) guys want/need to get props by showing off their deep
knowledge of some topic. Something to think about.

On a more positive note, I would vote for more talks on:
  - home computing (media servers, RAID arrays, media players, VoIP,
	firewalls, home automation etc.)
  - mobile computing (Android is, after all, Linux (on droids?), howtos
	on writing apps etc.)
  - embedded devices (dare I say Raspberry Pi, plus all the other cool
	new ~$50 toys running Linux available these days)
  - cloud/web technologies
  - security (latest threats actually seen on real machines, better ways
	of implementing authentication etc.)
  - open-source games

Of course, most of these topics will be covered at the awesome LCA next
year, but for an older guy like me, spreading them out through the year
is more efficacious than the single big hits of the LCAs and OSDCs etc.

I would also like to hear what the new Linus Torvalds (U/G students)
are up to these days. I feel that the "Linux generation" is growing old
and the next generation are possibly not as interested in the underlying
principles of Free, Libre, Open etc. software. Is this a fair comment?
Is there anything we can do about it? (seems that nobody in Canberra
could be bothered with SFD this year - myself included).


Bob Edwards.

> Have fun,
> Paul
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