The glimpses of perpetual beta that users can see is dwarfed by unseen backstage experimentation.

This is neither perverse, nor masochistic: it is necessary to uncover hidden risks in experimental ideas early, and to quickly resolve gridlocks with data.

The origins of this curious philosophy lie in what is known as the release early, release often (RERO) principle, usually attributed to Linus Torvalds, the primary architect of the Linux operating system. The idea is exactly what it sounds like: releasing code as early as possible, and as frequently as possible while it is actively evolving.

What makes this possible in software is that most software failures do not have life-threatening consequences.4 As a result, it is usually faster and cheaper to learn from failure than to attempt to anticipate and accommodate it via detailed planning (which is why the RERO principle is often restated in terms of failure as fail fast).