Physical Merit Badges Extend Online Sharing Behaviors

As users become familiar with achievement systems and badges, how do these learned behaviors extend into the offline world?

foursquare merit badges

Nerd Merit badges are embroidered representations of achievements users acquire on social games such as Foursquare or other such challenges that are becoming a regular habit for a generation immersed in technology. Badges can be pride symbols for being featured in Boingboing.net to processing an email inbox down to zero emails.

Rob Walker from the New York Times explains why there’s a need to convert personal achievements and digital badges into physical objects:

The nagging sense of needing to acquire new skills, all the time, is palpable. That anxiety dovetails with a self-improvement ethos that fills whole sections of bookstores, cross-matched with the various ways technology prods us to tabulate parodic amounts of personal-behavior data. If we rack up badges for our online “achievements,” we may as well do the same for our offline victories, too.

These embroidered badges could also be stemming from behaviors we’ve acquired online. Our abilities to broadcast thoughts and preferences are usualy confined within digital spaces. Physical badges enable us to share our accomplishments with anyone we come across in the real world.

Consumed: “Lifelong Earning”

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