"Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!" (from Mel Brooks' 1974 Western Blazing Saddles)

Kent James kent at caspia.com
Fri Aug 10 15:44:43 UTC 2012

On 8/9/2012 5:24 PM, Eric Moore wrote:
> My impression is that the only people who want badges for Thunderbird 
> are Mozilla employees. I don't see the point.
Anne presented some of these ideas at the weekly Thunderbird video 
conference a few weeks ago, and my initial comments were much like 
yours. My impressions were that this is something akin to t-shirts that 
we give people to persuade them to work a little harder for free on 
Mozilla projects.

But as I thought about it some more, my attitude has changed. As I 
understand it, open badges are attacking a very different problem.

As people develop in their professional careers, they collect a series 
of verifiable achievements that can be used to introduce themselves to 
potential employers or clients - or simply to their colleagues. When I 
read resumes (and I have probably read tens of thousands over my 
career), I am always looking for little signs of excellence that show 
ability and motivation outside of the norm. Certain activities fit well 
here: colleges issue degrees, technical organizations like Cisco and 
Microsoft have certification programs, some groups have achievement 
awards. Regular jobs also provide a verifiable record of experience. But 
"volunteered for Mozilla" is not really in the same class currently. 
Open badges, done well and with integrity, could provide an alternate 
form of credentials that would recognize achievement and ability in 
activities performed at Mozilla.

So the ideal of open badges is to provide defined, verifiable 
credentials that would be added to other credential programs. Personally 
I think this is a worthy goal in general (particularly since the costs 
of college education have gotten out of control, and technical 
innovation in education and recognition is sorely needed). I am at a 
point in my career where I don't think that I would be motivated by 
badges, but I suspect that there are others would be.


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