MUGs Starting to be Half Full

Computer hobbyists and the Mac User Groups (MUGs) may be a dying breed, thanks to the Internet, busy schedules, and less interest in the internals of a computer, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Computer club officials in Australia say their members are getting grayer and fewer in numbers. Younger people are more interested in what they can do with computers and not what makes them tick.

"Young people live life faster," said Lyn Goodall, president of the Melbourne PC User Group. "They donit have a need or a wish to know what is going on under the bonnet of their computer."

Anthony Caruana, past president of the Melbourne Internet Macintosh User Group, thinks the local user group is coming to an end.

"Online communities are taking over, and I am not even thinking of things as sophisticated as Second Life, but stuff like Yahoo! or Google groups and online forums," Mr. Caruana said. "Thereis so much information and community available through the internet that the need for a bricks and mortar group is diminishing."

Perhaps more alarming is the reduced interest in the social aspects of these clubs. Meeting people in person and developing technical and personal relationships seems to out of favor compared to the Internet where aggressive personal opinions are better tolerated.

Another factor is instant gratification. The pace of society no longer allows for tinkering and hobbyist computing. There is just too much going on for a computer to be broken for long.

Mr. Caruana said that the strength of the clubs is now on-line. "Members can be active from anywhere in the world and donit need to physically attend a meeting," he said.

The pace of life has made everyone time-poor. Socializing in a club, especially for the technologically engaged, is harder and harder.