Wick Communications

Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!

In Online media on 21 Jul 2011 at 4:47 pm

The latest advancement from our friends at Google News is something they are calling “badges.”

Here’s the idea, as I understand it. If you sign into your Google account and enable the Web history, you will now begin to earn badges related to various categories of stories that you open through Google News. I know. Whoopee!

At least that was my first thought. And it may be my second and third thought. I’m still trying to get my head around it. It wouldn’t be the first time the folks at Google were a few steps ahead of me.

I gather that the idea is to give others some idea of your expertise on a particular subject (provided you choose to make the badges you earn public  knowledge.) Say there are two commenters on your favorite Wall Street stock trading blog. One has reached platinum Google badge level and earned a cool icon from the search engine. The other has no such badge. Which commenter are you likely to believe? It could help you ferret out spam.

I think it will also create communities of common interest and that might be useful too. …

For newspapers, it may come to pass that we want to entice these badge seekers with our content. There may be tricks for SEO and keywords that we can use to push our stories and photos higher on the Google ladder. That could be very valuable.

I confess to greeting this one with skepticism. I don’t see how merely opening a link (I don’t think the Google engineers have yet figured out how to tell if you actually read the words or comprehend the discussion) necessarily makes you more learned. And it seems to me that reading one scholarly article from a reputable source makes you more well read that someone who reads a great deal more from more dubious sources.

Lastly, reading is its own reward. We convince others we know what we are talking about by virtue of our intelligent writing on the subject … not because we have a pretty icon on our Google + page.



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