Welcome to 2006. May the New Year bring you happiness and may you sucessfully keep all your resolutions. As for me, I've dumped my usual fitness related resolutions in favor of a blog related one. Keep your posts shorter and post more regularly is what they tell me, so that's for me in ought-six. You hold me to it.
I have to admit I'm not a big New Year's fan. Too many failed resolutions, too many pounds left unlost for me to believe in dramatic new beginnings. The New Year's resolution is a version of punctuated equilibrium, an attempt to jolt free of the status quo with a dramatic, profound change.
But inertia is hard to overcome and old habits die hard. Discontinuous change is disruptive and painful, and more often than not it just doesn't take.
Which is why I'm so excited about the idea of Perpetual Beta as an approach to change management. In an article in late September, Tim O'Rielly set out his definition of Web 2.0. In it he outlines 7 principles and 8 design patterns that characterize the next generation of web applications.
One of those design patterns is perpetual beta:
When devices and programs are connected to the internet, applications are no longer software artifacts, they are ongoing services. Therefore: Don't package up new features into monolithic releases, but instead add them on a regular basis as part of the normal user experience. Engage your users as real-time testers, and instrument the service so that you know how people use the new features.
This has great significance for ASU and other higher education institutions who currently manage information change via punctuated equilibrium. We think in terms of web site redesigns and long development cycles to release new product capabilities. A better alternative is the near continuous deployment of a stream of technology through the web. If we conceive of asu.edu as a technology service, like an amazon or a google, its easy to see how we could begin to use that site as a change agent, delivering a reliable service that is at once familiar and steadily changing.
Evolution not revolution. But continuous change instead of discontinuous change. Shorter posts, but more often. Isn't it great when a plan comes together?