This morning Google announced a new feature in Google News - Badges. The badges (as explained in the video above) are earned through reading around your topics of interest on Google News - i.e. the more you read on one subject the more likely you are to earn a badge - or add more "Stars" (Google love their stars) to that badge. These can then be shared through social networks (of course) and you can "connect" with others who read similar stuff.
This is yet another example of digital life that is being influenced by the "gamification" trend - the concept of turning previously private activities into to gaming experience where people are either rewarded socially or physically with a some kind of "capital" (If you are playing buzz-word-bingo whilst reading this post then you are likely doing very well by this point).
The question that this development has to beg of course, is do we really need to be incentivised in such a way to consume the world around us? As a world of fairly advanced adults with access to a rich and diverse media landscape, do we need the digital equivalent of being given a cookie for doing our homework? As much as I am pleased to say that this is another example of the "recommendation economy" at work - I do sometimes wonder if this is encouraging a culture of digital laziness - a condition of the millennial generation that is actively promoting the suspension of discernment, making us all follow the breadcrumbs of "Likes", +'s and RT's.