Google News Badges And The Decline Of Western Civilization

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When I opened Google News today, I was greeted by this screen, asking me to “collect private badges for [my] favorite topics”:

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Here’s the way it was described in the Google Blog:

“On Google News, the average reader of political news has read 20 articles about politics in the last six months. Where do you stand?

“Starting today, in the U.S. edition of Google News, you can see how voracious a news reader you are by earning Google News badges as you read articles about your favorite topics. 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.

. . . “Your badges are private by default, but if you want, you can share your badges with your friends. Tell them about your news interests, display your expertise, start a conversation or just plain brag about how well-read you are.”

According to CBS News, earning badges for reading news is supposed to "encourage people to visit sites of their interest and share them with others using its networking site Google+, which in turn will increase traffic to those sites."

Information Week reports it this way:

“This is known as "gamification," the addition of game mechanics to non-game activities. It’s a particularly trendy term at the moment and has been the subject of discussion at several recent game industry conferences. Gartner is predicting that by 2015, more than half of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes.”

Gamifying the news! Wow, do I feel . . . old. Because every fiber of my being is screaming out that this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. 

“Gamification.” Words fail me.

If you’re looking for me, I’ll be the grumpy curmudgeon in the corner being anti-social and muttering to myself about the decline of Western civilization.