1) Those groups already exist in Jacksonville, and
2) Those are yesterday's technologies. Not much exciting happening
there, except maybe how're they're trying to catch up with today's web
frameworks (see http://www.playframework.org/)
RubyJax has historically attracted a segment interested in more
leading-edge technologies, and I think that's still the ethos of the
group. I agree with the notion of expanding to other technologies,
though--things like Node or jQuery or writing a Vim plugin or doing
mobile development (native or HTML5). I don't know where to draw the
line on what's cool and what isn't, but it probably isn't important to
draw a line.
I think the way to draw more folks is 1) Having interesting topics, 2)
Having interesting speakers, and 3) Giving enough advance notice so
people can make plans to attend. Expanding the scope to other
technologies increases the probability of having #1 and #2. My $0.02.
How about Node.js stuff or HTML5 topics. Or web basics. I think that would get new members. I think we sometimes forget how many people out there are doing a job that is well understood by them but they don't know what they don't know or how to go about getting started efficiently.
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I doubt I would ever come to a Java or .Net topic. All those other
things you mentioned - Node, jquery, Vim, mobile, etc. - would be
interesting to me.
I think also just trying some different days occasionally would help. I
personally know of a couple folks that would like to come but Thursdays
are bad for them (school) and thus they haven't been able to come to the
last three or four. The group did some Fridays this year - not a great
day for me personally, but I understand those meetings were
well-attended. If it's rotated on different days of the week there's the
potential to draw some of those folks in once or twice, at least.