The whole beta620 site has a distinctivelyKickstarter-y feel to it: Not only are projects presented with a whimsy not entirely typical of the Gray Lady — quirky illustrations, friendly explanations, a design that employs an unapologetic amount of pink — but they’re also presented as, basically, pitches. Developers are selling their ideas to the public, hoping they’ll catch on. Instead of funding, though, they’re asking for something that can be much more valuable: plain old feedback. Beta620 is primarily a social space where developers and users can collaborate and experiment, without disrupting the consumption experiences on NYTimes.com proper. While not all projects the Times is working on will be highlighted on beta620 — some, Frons says, may simply need refining before they’re presented, while others may present a competitive advantage if they’re kept under wraps — a lot of them will be. With beta620, the Times is taking the lessons of end-user innovation and applying them to the process of development, rather than simply the products of it. It’s trying to make experimentation something that’s open and interactive — rather than, Frons says, “something that’s cordoned off in the ivory tower.”
The New York Times has launched beta620 to innovatively find a way to innovate.