Thursday, March 20, 2008

RIP (again?) Sydney Webloggers?

The Sydney Webloggers Meetup Group was supposed to be meeting last night, at the delightful ArtHouse Hotel's attic room in the CBD. Eight people had RSVPed "Yes" (plus one "Maybe") through the website, I'd sent out several reminders, and had several phone calls groveling with the ArtHouse staff to please, please, please find us a spare corner in their fully-booked Attic.

Yesterday afternoon, I had a 50 minute train trip into the city (cost $10), arrived 15 minutes early (as suggested by the Meetup site), and patiently waited half an hour before I actually found someone to talk to. (Thanks Neerav for turned up, especially since he'd actually changed his RSVP during the day when he realised he might well get caught up at work, and it was only a fluke he could make it after all.) Then a 60 minute trip home. If any Webloggers arrived after 8.20pm (for a 7pm meeting) then they missed us as, by then, Neerav and I were walking disappointedly to Central Station.

The last ArtHouse attic meeting, I told the staff I was expecting fifteen people and we got six. The last Bloggers coffee shop Meetup attracted only four people. Note that I scheduled yesterday's meeting for a Wednesday night, rather than Thursday, based on member suggestions; people had complained that Thursdays weren't good for them.

What does it say about my social life, that I actually keep a date free to meet with people I assumed were interested in meeting a fellow blogger? Maybe I'd have had more luck going home instead, to play on the Internet?

It's embarrassing when I sell my soul to the devil convincing the ArtHouse to sneak us into the only (busy) room they're allowed to take bookings for after 5pm - with me telling them I have confirmed RSVPs for at least eight people (which I did), and then the barman sees me taking up room for eight people and drinking alone. That's happened twice now. Each time I was so confident I had the meeting under control, but I end up looking like a dork. And a liar.

Most of my feedback told me that bloggers are highly unlikely to travel too far from the CBD if they've been at work all day, and a lot of the members seem to work in the CBD. They also tell me they have "family responsibilities" on weekends. I'm not sure I want to investigate suburban bars and restaurants on the off-chance that some bloggers might turn up when they're not playing weekend sport, or working overtime, or spending time with their kids. (I can just see me travelling off to some suburb I've never visited before, to sit in another strange bar or coffee shop... waiting for nobody again.) Please do think of me sitting by myself at the next meeting. I'll be easy to find; I'll be the one not at home writing my blog.

I'm getting very good at this, you know. I've recently had sketch group meetings for eight confirmed attendees - at which there were no models and only one artist, ie, me. And I've sat in restaurants at a table for 15 people, apologising to the waiters that we "seem to only have five people after all and yes, you can take away the other ten chairs because I can see that every other section of your restaurant is fully booked and we look like greedy, lying idiots".

I think I blame mobile phones. People seem to be way too spontaneous now that they can get distracted from keeping an appointment on their way to said appointment. Mind you, even if they do call me to cancel ten minutes before they're due to arrive, it still doesn't help me explaining the situation to the place that had kept my booking for me.

Will these Meetups survive? I think I'm beyond caring.

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