At first glance, Google Badges, a feature released this week on the Google News platform, smacks of kindergarten.
Read enough stories on a certain topic and you get a badge. Read even more and you rise through the levels--bronze, silver, gold, and ultimate. I'm picturing gold stars pasted on crayon drawings.
Google has a help page that explains the new feature, complete with a short, happy video.The badges are fairly fine-grained. There are 500, including one for stories about Harry Potter and one for stories about your favorite baseball team. See the video below.
Commenter SuperJohnMitchell's reaction to the video: "Seriously?! I don't need to get an achievement after I read the news."
At second glance, however, I see some utility here. And to be fair, I should mention that some people did write nice comments about the video. Badges is automatically parsing what you read into categories, then making it possible for you to click on a category to get that type of news. People who take advantage of Google's news categories are doing this to some extent already. I suspect there are a lot of folks, however, who aren't that organized. Once you have a badge, you can click on the hover menu to turn the badge into a section.… Read more