Reading the news used to be about personal edification, or learning about what’s going on in your community. No more. Now it’s a contest.
Google is introducing a new feature called Google News Badges, a program that will track what kinds of news items users read online.
“The more you read, the higher level badge you’ll receive, starting with Bronze, then moving up the ladder to Silver, Gold, Platinum and finally, Ultimate,” said Natasha Mohanty, an engineer working on Google News, in a company blog post. “We have more than 500 badges available, so no matter what kind of news you’re into, there’s a badge out there for you.”
The level-up system is familiar to most players of videogames, whether they’re veterans of grind-happy JRPGs or addicted to earning a higher Gamer Score on XBOX Live than their friends. Google’s service seems to play into this competitive spirit.
“Your badges are private by default, but if you want, you can share your badges with your friends,” [Mohanty] said. “Tell them about your news interests, display your expertise, start a conversation or just plain brag about how well-read you are.”
Just what we needed: another way to not measure up. At least now you can totally pwn that annoying WlfBltzrFan2071 by going to Politico.