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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Whither Singapore's Internet grassroots organisations?

After attending the Singapore PHP User Group meeting, I started thinking, "What has happened to all of the other Internet grassroots groups?" It seemed like such groups, or at least the ones that I knew of, had either died or gone into extended hibernation. Which is a shame because it doesn't bode well for the future of such organisations.

Today, I did a mental checklist of the groups that I'm familiar with.
  1. (ok, not strictly a group, though it was organised by the folks at
    Objective: To promote the local blogosphere and educate Singaporeans about it
    Conceived as an annual conference, nothing happened after the first one in 2005. There was talk of another in middle or late 2007, but that was just it -- talk.
  2. Web Standards Group (WebSG)
    Objective: To encourage web designers/developers to use Web standards in their work for cross platform compatibility
    This was apparently the third incarnation of the group when I joined. Unfortunately, the "phoenix" burned up after the third meeting. I attempted to restart things, but was met with a deafening silence.
  3. The Digital Movement
    Objective: To build a community of Web 2.0 and social media leaders
    This one-year-old group had organised three events in 2007 with apparent success. And then... nothing (unless it organised PopOut! in October). Besides, I'm out of the picture too. I was involved in one meeting, but felt shafted after that for offering dissenting views.
  4. Mac Meetup
    Objective: To bring Mac users together to discuss Apple news and provide support
    The original group died after Meetup ended its free services. A second group was started and I attended some of its meetings, but it died again because of cost. The original group is supposed to live on through a blog, but I haven't heard of any more offline events.
And there you have it: four grassroots groups that have seemingly died. I don't count because the people who are actively involved are more like friends who organise get-togethers informally. The only one formal event it had was to celebrate the website's first anniversary.

Of course, I realise that some naysayers would say that I jinxed all of these groups, since I participated in them. Hmm, if that's true, then that's bad news for the Singapore PHP User Group...



BethenGoh said...

I can't help it but think that most of these groups just start the movement in order to make good their resume to get good job or just obtain 15min of fame in newspaper.

Most see it as a end rather than the mean. Once achieve the aim and objective, they just forget what they actually stand for.

Saying that no time is not an excuse. Why fire up people and left it up for other to takeover ? What we need is people with staying power not a temporary hotrod.

Still, someone will like to tell me otherwise or just tell me I am wrong.

Yuhui said...

Yep, I know what you mean. And I hope it's not true, i.e. that they do it to look good in their resumes.

H. said...

Not to pimp Microsoft, but the community developer user group that focuses on .NET development (SgDotNet - has been running for more than 3 years, with monthly get-togethers. There are other MS-related user groups (but run by the communities) such as the Windows Usergroup, Office Usergroup, and Small Business server group, but they haven't been around as long as SgDotNet.

Yuhui said...

H - are those sponsored by Microsoft?

Sivasothi said...

If you are talking about the MacMeetups I organised, then reports of our demise are greatly exaggerated :-)

And also incorrect, but its a long story so let me blog about it later....

Short story - in its heyday we met monthly for two years! Then attendance numbers trickled to the very few, so I stopped organising sessions. id raise charges and they alienated their plethora of small groups . So I simply switched to a blog and mailing list.

These days if we can achieve an official meetup once in six months, that would be great - i.e. fewer but more intense .

Sustaining the meetups are mac-friendships going back 10 years for a core, when the me@n onelist first appeared.

See .

btw - there will be a post-MacWorld 2008 meetup; join us?

Anonymous said...

Then again some of these groups might have the heart, but did not have the time.

Wei Jie said...

Check out the Singapore Linux Meetup Group (SLMG) at It's active and has meetups every month.

Yuhui said...

Siva - yeah, I was writing about your MeetUps. :) So is it fair for me to say that your Mac MeetUps are now held on an informal basis, i.e. when the few of you decide to hang out together?

Anonymous - that could be true. But the comparison could be made to the many non-profit organisations. If the latter can be sustained, why not these groups too?

Yuhui said...

Wei Jie - thanks for the referral! I hope it continues to live on in spite of Meetup being a paid service.

Sivasothi said...

Yeah, informal, since a scheduled meetup is to tough to organise.

So anyone can propose a meetup - once 3-4 are confirmed meeting, it will happen. Then advertise to the rest and enough will come.

Look at the photo here of part of the group - 2003 was a good time for meetups.

Leopard arrived with hardly a sniff.

Yuhui said...

Siva - in that case, I'd classify the current Mac Meetups as similar to, i.e. events happen only when people organise one, rather than on a fixed schedule.

Anonymous said...

Wei Jie said...

To clarify, the Singapore Linux Meetup Group meetups are free to attend. Only the organizer has to pay, which provides email notifications for the group, among other services.

Garry Huang said...

You forgot Entrepreneur 27 Singapore =(

We're still pretty active! Watch out for an unconference soon, Yahoo Hack event, and many more!

Yuhui said...

Anonymous, Garry - thanks!

Wei Jie - yup, meetups are free, but the organiser has to pay to organise the event through That's why I said I hope the Linux meetups continue in spite of the organiser needing to pay.

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