I’m becoming increasingly intrigued by our use of social media to collect stuff. Be it Foursquare badges or Getglue stickers, we want it, and we want to boast about it to show how cool we are.
The process of identity definition through social media (ie liking a brand on Facebook) has expanded to demonstrating that we know how to have a good time, and where to go to have it.
Foursquare is growing and is the cool thing *right now* – Facebook Places, as Facebook deals develops, will surely replace it – but is the perfect example of how we use badges to demonstrate facets of our character.
By obtaining a badge, you are showing that you a) excel at something b) visit or take part in something regularly, or c) have an exaggerated interest in something.
Badges are the latest form of Internet currency.
I am a guru of Idlewild on Getglue, so by default, the Getglue algorithm reckons I have earned the right to be highlighted as ‘an expert’ because I have completed several associated actions AND had social recognition from within the Idlewild network.
One-off badges play to this, asking users to complete an action set within certain parameters to obtain something that may be unique or unavailable after a certain period of time. You have to interact to earn the currency to prove you are a useful member of the social network, or within the sphere of influence associated with that object.
Fighting off Foursquare fatigue has been combated with incentives, growth in mobile pervasiveness has led to a growing userbase and it turns out that
ease of use is most important to to users, rather than the process of connecting socially, which is after all, what we’re all here for.
And, of course, there are guides to picking up badges on Foursquare, so you can falsely claim to be an influential user within whatever network it is you’re trying to affect.
It’s intriguing that we fall into this, and now we look to unify all of our ‘achievements’ across each network, into one venue, such as Score.ly, to show-off even further.
I’m really interested to know what you make of this, and if you know of any research that details this human behaviour, hoarding, in the digital space.