I was going to keep this idea to myself, but I already see it out in the wild, so I’ll spill the beans.
Imagine Xbox achievements, but for your life. In the same manner that you can get Boy Scouts badges for real life achievements, this would be the digital equivilent.
But to make this truly successful, open up the badge creation to everyone using a Facebook application, so anyone could create a badge. I started working on this at http://apps.facebook.com/lifebadge, but I haven’t progressed past the post a badge to a profile yet.
I imagine that badges fall into three natural categories – work, leisure, and pleasure. Work badges are achievements gained at work, and could be third party endorsed. This is how the company makes money, by charging third parties to endorce that certain badges have their approval. For instance, a person could create a Microsoft Certified Professional badge and add it to their profile. But then Microsoft could pay to connect over web services and endorce a particular badge. This badge would then carry the most weighting and would appear at the top of any search listings, and would cancel any one badge with a similar name.
Leisure badges are those which you’d share with your general friends, and may or may not be verified. Such as you changing the oil in your car, becoming a black belt in Karate, or climbing Mount Everest.
Pleasure badges are those which have no verification and you’d only share with your inner circle. Things such as I’ve kissed twins, played strip poker, or had a naked party.
And that’s all fine and good. But the real strength of the idea comes from the fact that badges are actually aspects of one’s identity. If you collate enough of these badges about a person, then you pretty much have verified their identity in the community. This is seperate from their legal identity, but that in itself can be a badge, a verified real name endorced by a central government organisation. So then your profile of badges becomes your default online identity, that has a a fine grained list of badges that you can choose to share with quite specific people.
An example of this would be to get a bank loan. You may call up the credit score company and get them to give you a credit score. This then appears as a badge on your profile once you choose to display it. This badge is your information, and you control who sees it. But you cannot change it, since the information is endorced by a third party. Then you go to the bank and ask for a mortgage. They ask to see your credit score badge. You’re free to show it or not show it, that’s your choice. Of course, if you don’t, then they won’t give you a mortgage.
What happens if your credit score goes down? I thought this information was mine, and others cannot change it without my knowledge? Well that’s true, if your score goes down, the credit score company must be able to update that score, but they still need your permission to do so. If you choose not to however, then the badge becomes stale and is greyed out. You can still display it of course, but it is no longer endorced by the credit score company, and should not be relied upon as valid information anymore.
The beauty of this system is that privacy and making money is built in right from the beginning!