Life in Perpetual Beta

One definition for a Beta release is, “A version of the vendor’s software that is given to selected installations prior to the product becoming generally available. This version is often not free of defects.”

I can relate to the second sentence when I think of my personal and professional life being in a state of continuous Beta releases. This perspective has been my norm for a few years, particularly since I’ve become a free-agent and have to do everything, including my own tech support.

Perpetual beta is my attitude toward learning — I’ll never get to the final release and my learning will never stabilise. I’ve also realised that clients with a similar attitude are much easier to work with than those who believe that we will reach some future point where everything stabilises and we don’t need to learn or do anything else. I believe that this point is called death.

My wife has often told me that my current situation as a consultant is the best vocation for me because I bore easily and need constant challenges. Life in beta seems to suit me. This may be because I am male, as there is more research coming out that our ‘drill & fill’ education system doesn’t work for boys, as the Eide’s note in The Trouble with Boys. A solution could be what Christian at Think: Lab refers to in a recent article on schools in perpetual beta:

Beta schools.  Perpetual.  Environments that promote infinite discovery.  Student and teacher as co-researchers.  Form.  Intent.  Re-mapping the entire premise of ‘school’.

Given the abundance of information and connectivity, or what Mark Federman calls “ubiquitously connected & pervasively proximate”, we may find that in the near future hyperactivity is no longer diagnosed as a problem.

8 thoughts on “Life in Perpetual Beta”

  1. Harold,

    I can readily identify with this. No human life goes beyond beta; life is a perpetual experiment and reshaping. Speaking for myself, I recognize that I still have a lot of bugs.

    What’s beta and what’s not is a state of mind. Many people try to go into release prematurely: they put defective product on the market. (By productizing people, I mean locking in on attitudes, structure, opinions, etc.: becoming rigid.)

    Life as beta is uplifting. You have the opportunity to streamline things, to resond to feedback, to become a killer app.

    Lots of alphas are claiming beta status now. They debut on life’s big stage long before they’re prepared to play the part.


  2. Interesting point on all of the alphas out there. Never thought about the difference but I can see that life in beta is where you have to affirm to principles and actually commit to something, while remaining open to change. On the other hand, the alphas are just pumping out "flavour of the month" stuff. Good metaphor, Jay. Thanks.

  3. I really like what you have stated in this post. Personally, I think that continuous learning is the solution to most of the problems the humanity is facing today. Betas should be there to support and bridge this.

  4. I commend your statement or tagline ” Life is always in perpetual Beta”. While organizations freely use words like SME, knowledge is an evolutionary , every day work in progress activity and so our life is always in beta. There is a famous quote from a South Indian Tamil poet, Avvaiyar, translated in English says: “What we have learnt is infinitesimal. What we have to learn is infinite”


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