The Alpha Bet

The Boston Globe’s ‘Innovation Economy’ columnist, Scott Kirsner, lit up the bat signal today. He’s calling all savvy end users to pitch in and help local tech entrepreneurs test, shape, and promote their products.

I’m there and have been since the late 1990s when I started littering the web with digital breadcrumbs in the form of various user accounts and profile pages. Some of the sites from ‘back in the day’ are still going strong and raking in the cash, while others are long gone and only available cached. Often the difference between the two is having quality, in-depth guidance from engaged users willing to give their time and feedback. That fact alone makes this call to action so compelling.

Kirsner speaks to Boston’s need to cultivate a class of users more actively engaged with entrepreneurs developing products. I couldn’t agree more which gives insight into why 2010 has been a boon for my geek street cred. It’s only the end of the first quarter and I’ve managed to worm my way into Alpha testing for three thoughtfully executed Boston area web products: Rally, tourfilter and Meetcha. The Beta ‘biz’ is booming too: Gist, Threadsy, and Thread. (Stay tuned: more on my impressions of these sites later…)

The short list of influential Boston area early adopters compiled for this article is worth checking out and I was pleased to find that many on the list overlap with my own. (Laura Fitton, Steve Garfield, Joselin Mane, Eric Andersen, Jon Pierce).

If I were to add one person to the list, I’d go with my friendly neighborhood online dating/start-up consultant extraordinaire, Dave Evans. His blog, ‘Online Dating Post,’ contains unparalleled comparative analysis of social technology products. The title can be misnomer as he covers a lot of ground outside of the online dating space. A lot of the new sites I try are at his behest and my knowledge of what’s out there is well-rounded for it.

So, Boston: who else should I keep my eye on?

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