Join 3,497 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Google News Badges
July 14, 2011 6:28 PM   Subscribe

Everybody likes earning badges. It's what built scouting and what drives the Khan Academy. Now Google has introduced "Google News Badges". Is this a benevolent attempt to get more people to be aware of what's going on in the world, or is something deeper and/or darker going on? It's an unusual move, whatever the reason.
posted by strangeguitars (41 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
What hast thou wrought, XBox Live Achievements?
posted by kmz at 6:30 PM on July 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


I hope I have a place in google's plan for us.
posted by The Whelk at 6:31 PM on July 14, 2011 [14 favorites]


or is something deeper and/or darker going on? It's an unusual move, whatever the reason.

what
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:32 PM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hmmm. Can you get special badges for creating new stories?
posted by XMLicious at 6:32 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


We don't need no stin....

Oooh! Shiny!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:36 PM on July 14, 2011 [16 favorites]


Achievement Unlocked!
posted by Decimask at 6:38 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's an unusual move, whatever the reason.

It would seem to me that the move would be to get people to use Google News more. Giving badges/achievements/points/etc ("gamification", what an annoying word) is something a lot of sites are using to try and get more repeat traffic. I'm not really sure what other (certainly not what "darker") motives there could be...
posted by wildcrdj at 6:38 PM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I read tons, TONS, of Google news articles. But, I don't think I will ever, under any circumstances, turn on web history. It just kind of creeps me out. I suspect this is a ploy to get people to enable web history so that they can more easily target adds to you, and make you a more valuable commodity.
posted by Roger Dodger at 6:38 PM on July 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


"If you’re signed-in to a Google account and have web history enabled, you will earn badges as you click on articles in Google News."

I think Google's motivation is showing.
posted by vidur at 6:39 PM on July 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Of course, now that I think about it, I'm always logged in to my Google account. So they could actually be tracking my web history anyway. They just might not be showing it to me since I've got it disabled. Is that too much conspiracy theory, do you think?
posted by Roger Dodger at 6:41 PM on July 14, 2011


Anything Google does is ultimately intended to sell more advertising. Anything.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:42 PM on July 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


Yeah, using GN more and having web history on are good things for Google. This is pretty obvious... web history is opt-in and this gives another use for it (beyond having potentially more relevant ads).

Personally I like having ads that once in a while are relevant, but it's opt-in so if you don't like it you just do nothing....
posted by wildcrdj at 6:43 PM on July 14, 2011


I just noticed that. How stupid does Google think I am?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:45 PM on July 14, 2011


is something deeper and/or darker going on?

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED
Paranoid
posted by nathancaswell at 6:51 PM on July 14, 2011 [15 favorites]


For example, if you keep reading articles about Google, it will earn you a Bronze badge.

They also seem to be trying to focus on getting people to read news about Google.

As far as the deeper and darker goes, keep in mind what Edward Bernays did with women smoking. Advertising can be quite powerful (and therefore potentially destructive).

I'm not trying to argue that Google is doing something evil, per se; I'm just wondering out loud. :)
posted by strangeguitars at 6:58 PM on July 14, 2011


"Ladies and Gentlemen...The story you are about to see is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

"This is the city. Los Angeles, California. I work here...I carry a badge"

'It was Tuesday, February 9. It was raining in Los Angeles. We were working on web history and data mining when it began, the deputization of Googles' new room."
posted by clavdivs at 7:17 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really, really hate achievements. I just want to play the game/read the news!
posted by codacorolla at 7:23 PM on July 14, 2011


Well if it encourages actually reading the news, shiny baubles or in group brownie points or whatever, it is actually quite a good thing.
posted by sammyo at 7:28 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The interesting thing is that if Xbox achievements really were achievements, you'd be able to play a whole game earning zero. I don't care for Xbox points or whatever they are called, I've got over 3000 of them and never tried to earn a single one. I always enjoy the tickle of my cerebellum you get for getting an achievement for managing to put the disc into the console. Ohh, yay me!
posted by Keith Talent at 7:40 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Agreed that achievements/trophies/badges in games/news feeds/social networks for shit you would have done anyway are stupid. They need some real meaning and need to point people towards a real outcome (and not just a 10% off coupon).
posted by smirkette at 7:47 PM on July 14, 2011


strangeguitars: "Advertising can be quite powerful (and therefore potentially destructive)."

As advertising is a form of communication, yes.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:49 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I saw that one of the new versions of an ereader -- maybe the Kobo? -- has achievements, too. And on the one hand, that's completely nuts and useless. But on the other hand, I feel sort of sad that I do not have an ereader that will give me stupid pointless achievements for doing stuff I was going to do anyhow.
posted by jeather at 8:31 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sooooo.... Google News will give me badges for keeping up with current events, but google maps still hasn't caught up to the fact that the Republic of South Sudan is it's own country?
posted by jrb223 at 9:38 PM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


or is something deeper and/or darker going on?
It's called marketing.
posted by adamvasco at 11:11 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Until now I had not heard of the Khan Academy. Thanks for posting this.
posted by Ratio at 11:48 PM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Black Hole badges are legendary and unknown. They are the most unique Khan Academy awards.

Does the Khan Academy give badges for proofreading?
posted by chavenet at 11:51 PM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


does anyone else feel irritated by the rampant “gamification”, to exploit a horrible buzzword, of useful applications? I already want to read the news; people who don’t can piss off.
posted by jmegawarne at 1:38 AM on July 15, 2011


The Whelk: "I hope I have a place in google's plan for us."

I'm totally going to steal this and pass it along to all Christians I meet:

"Don't worry, Google has a plan for you."
posted by bwg at 2:45 AM on July 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


jrb223: Sooooo.... Google News will give me badges for keeping up with current events, but google maps still hasn't caught up to the fact that the Republic of South Sudan is it's own country?

Well, it took them a while to figure out that Randolph, Vermont wasn't under water. IIRC Jessamyn sang a song and everything.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:30 AM on July 15, 2011


I could imagine some really good uses of badges for news reading. For example, reading an opposing view, instead of consistently reading the same points of view from people you already agree with. Or reading broader sources of news, instead of staying within your comfort zone. Or reading a range of news, instead of just sports or just entertainment.
posted by jasonhong at 4:34 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Web History off, Adblock Plus on, happy camper.

I think I will award myself some badges.
posted by flabdablet at 4:34 AM on July 15, 2011


What do I win if I only click on news articles about Google?
posted by ardgedee at 5:26 AM on July 15, 2011


I am going to use this app, get Ultimate status on every single badge, have a near orgasmic ad delivery system permanently at my beck and call, and when I finally achieve Godhead (unlocked!), you are all going to understand what it means to be of service in your communities.

To me.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:53 AM on July 15, 2011


I'm going to wait until people start badge-farming and buy mine from them. TAKE THAT, GOOGLE.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:49 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's fun to get badges in video games--they are, after all, pretty much all about getting that virtual brass ring, and always have been--but there's something a little disturbing about getting some notional gold star for buying milk and toilet paper, or being the "mayor" of about the only bar in town that I can be in for any length of time without getting a headache (yes, I'm looking at you, Foursquare), or in this case maintaining the same level of interest in the general goings-on of the world that I've had since I was twelve. One of my college psych classes involved training a rat in an actual Skinner box, with the usual contemplation of what the same thing for humans might be like, and holy crap, we've finally got it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:24 AM on July 15, 2011


bwg, you reminded me of a story idea I have. Something like:

Archaeologists in the future (think Wall-E or the end of AI) come down to Earth to dig through the ancient ruins of our civilization. Throughout the story and the banter between the characters, we learn that these people (us) worshipped this unseen being that is everywhere, knows everything about us, etc. In the end, our archaeologist friends find a building with many missing letters which to the reader/watcher appears to be a church of God, but the big reveal, of course, is that it is the Googleplex, and this divine being who knows all and sees all is Google. Of course, the archaeologists just assume this is the name of our God, and that the unofficial motto "Don't Be Evil" is just a boiled down version of the driving ideas behind the religion.

I feel like this would have made a pretty good Twilight Zone episode, were it around today.
posted by mysterpigg at 8:26 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Badges huh? Whatever, not interested. But the paranoia level in here . . . that I am interested in. I think several people hit it on the head (not the editorializing OP), Google wants to sell advertising and make money. That's what corporations do actually. Shocking, I know. It's nothing more sinister than making money. YMMV as far as how sinister or benevolent an activity making money is.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:41 AM on July 15, 2011


Sammyo: "Well if it encourages actually reading the news, shiny baubles or in group brownie points or whatever, it is actually quite a good thing."

The problem is that research suggests the opposite: adding extrinsic rewards to interesting tasks reduces intrinsic enjoyment.
posted by fartron at 10:16 AM on July 15, 2011


Note, none of these exist that I know of. But after playing enough video games and knowing my media habits I came up with - badges I would get but probably not want to show anyone:
- The "Consumer of cheesey Hollywood news you scoff at but then read about anyway" badge
- The "Counting the number of scary murder stories you look at per month" badge
- The "You read a lot of articles on video gaming and we're going to give you a badge for it so then your mom can have a chat with you" (yes, even though I'm way past 40, mom still worries I play too many video games - I think it's a generational thing, and she'd be happier if I was "getting out of the house and playing in the sun")
- The Schadenfreude badge: because we know you're only reading these stories to enjoy the trainwreck

Granted I'm a news and pop culture junky and I do read a lot of serious journalism - but I bet I read way more junk/fluffy news than I realize. Also crime news. Though every now and then I make an effort not to read certain media because no, I don't want to read any more about the many local crimes happening nearby which get a lot of media attention.

I don't care if Google knows my reading habits - I just think *I* don't want to know them!
posted by batgrlHG at 5:05 PM on July 15, 2011


Shocking, I know. It's nothing more sinister than making money. YMMV as far as how sinister or benevolent an activity making money is.

I just kidnapped your family and sold them into slavery in order to make money. Whether you think this is a bad thing depends on how sinister or benevolent an activity you think making money is.
posted by hattifattener at 5:12 PM on July 15, 2011


My only reaction to this was, "Wait, Khan Academy has BADGES? I know what I'm doing this weekend!" I've been meaning to check it out for awhile, but I thought it was 'just' video lectures. Knowledge is not enough for me, I require shiny pixels to motivate myself. :| And now I've just realized the badges are for basic high-school math only, which I already know, and I'm demotivated again. What does it all mean?

No interest in Google News badges. Web History freaks me out. I don't want me to be able to see my own search history forever and ever, let alone Google. Given that I Google pretty much everything, I'm sure the advertising would start getting way too targeted for my tastes. And it's already kind of borderline, I once made the mistake of Googling something like "zappos boots", and for weeks afterwards all the ads on totally shoe-unrelated websites were showing me what shiny new designer boots Zappos had for sale that day. It was... weird.
posted by purplecrackers at 6:43 PM on July 15, 2011


« Older The recent passing of Randy Savage stirred nostalg...  |  Everyone knows that Sean Bean ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments