Approaching life as a beta release

by Joel on March 31, 2010

Life

Created with http://creatr.cc/creatr/

The term “beta” has become a sort of in-joke for web apps and the accepted norm for Web 2.0. There is even a tongue-in-cheek site that creates web 2.0 logos with a beta badge. Back when gmail launched, I remember reading a criticism of Google for always releasing apps as beta releases and never full releases but now it is the de facto way of developing sites and apps.

The old way of doing things (1.0?) was to create a program, test it internally and maybe with a small, controlled group of outside testers, fix any bugs, then release it as a full version to the public. Now companies release apps as beta versions to the general public and solicit feedback for bugs, changes, and improvements. Google certainly wasn’t the only company to do this or even the first, but the company’s size and influence helped make open beta testing acceptable. I think Google has the right idea.

The world is in beta. Everything on this planet, even the planet itself, is in a state of constant upgrade and change. The Earth’s “products” ­­­­­­­­ — plants, animals, bodies of water, the land itself  — respond to “market forces” — humans, machines, chemicals, tectonic plates — and adapt according to the input provided. Some input, such as climate change caused by humans, many not be considered an upgrade but it is change that is the result of outside forces.

The point is, everything is evolving, including you and me. Realizing this can be a relief for those of us who tend to be perfectionists. There will always be tweaks and revisions to be made but that shouldn’t stop us from putting ourselves out there and inviting input and constructive criticism from others.

Too many people are waiting to be “finished.” How many times have you heard or said something like

  • When I finish school I’ll be able to…
  • When I get a new job I’ll be ready to…
  • When I lose weight I can start…
  • As soon as the kids are out of the house we can…
  • Once I get married I’ll be able to…

The problem is, each one of these milestones introduces new bugs in the code of our lives that must be dealt with before we feel we are ready release.

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin–real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
— Alfred D. Souza

Consider this a mind hack and put yourself out there! (I’m saying this to myself as much as anyone.) Consider wherever you are in life to be a release candidate and deal with the bugs as they come. If you don’t release this version, you’ll never release the next version and that could be the killer app you’ve been waiting on.

~JG

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin–real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.– Alfred D. Souza

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