This style of beta testing isn’t something I just accidentally
fell into. It came from the mid-’90s. UserLand had just released
Frontier’s free “Aretha” version, and there was a mailing
list for people using Aretha.
I’d never been a part of anything like that. There were all these
people talking about everything about the app. It was collegial
and interesting and fun — and Dave Winer, the developer, was so
open about everything, and he listened. It seemed like a miracle
to me that such a thing could exist. I loved it. I’d been waiting
all my life for such a thing, for a community like this.
I threw myself into it, then ended up working with Dave informally
on some small projects, and later took a job at UserLand (which
was my dream job, for sure). […]
It might seem funny to think of beta lists as having children and
grandchildren, but the NetNewsWire list was very much the child of
the Frontier list, and the Glassboard and Vesper lists were the