“Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use, do the work you want to see done.” Austin Kleon
Innovation isn’t limited to R & rooms anymore. The Web 2.0 movement–powered by start-ups such as Twitter, Malhalo and even YouTube, has proven that innovation often happens in iterations. Build, launch, tweak, measure, repeat. Digital experiences seem to be ‘always in beta’–learning and evolving along the way.
The idea of being in beta has become a broad cultural phenomenon. Many new products never make it beyond trial stage, and the trial and error beta-approach that helps Google and other alpha innovators to out-fail and thereby out-innovate the competition, is as much an attribute of successful organizations as it is a sign of our time.
But it’s not only analysts and conference organizers who are switching instantly from micro to macro, picking up nascent trends and elevating them to a must-deal-with core competence that transcends the current fad (just see all the Facebook conferences that are mushrooming right now). What I find even more interesting is how the media and blogosphere deal with it. If everything’s in beta, the public doesn’t have the patience anymore to wait for the alpha. As the media are increasingly forced to immediately widen the scope and view every innovation in a larger context as it occurs, the boundaries between reporters and commentators, bloggers and industry analysts are fading.
Evidently, the media need to cope with the current while also putting forward a vision for the up and coming. The time between observation and conclusion, between description and prediction, however, has shrunk to almost zero. There are no more lapses between news, analysis, background story, industry trend story, and intellectual dissection; they have become one and the same, at the same time. Not only is beta the new alpha–beta has gone meta.