If you read a lot of news through Google, it's going to reward you with the new-school version of gold stars: Google News badges, 500 right now, in ascending levels from bronze to Ultimate with the more articles clicked on.
The official Google News blog launched the feature yesterday for U.S. readers of Google News as a way to not only track what you're reading, but also as a kind of incentive to keep reading (if you respond to that sort of thing). Here's a video that explains more:
While the badges are private by default, you can change that. You'd have to go into your Google account and make sure to enable your web history. (Personally, I don't like the idea of Google knowing every whim I indulge in online, so mine is turned off. I don't need no stinkin' badge that badly to turn it back on!)
Once you turn it back on, you can share your badges. The badges also serve a functional purpose: by hovering over a badge, you can add custom sections (by clicking "add section") to read more about favorite topics, like Science and Tech, which have been split into distinct sections so folks can further hone in on what they want to read.
Who knows, maybe these badges will take off the way Foursquare's have with their users?
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