Nathan Roth

Over 30 years ago the arrival of inexpensive portable film cameras prompted Red Burns to found the Alternative Media Center. In those days it was a revolutionary idea to put technology in the hands of the many and allow people to tell their own stories as opposed to passively consuming media.

Fast forward to the 21st century where cameras are ubiquitous in devices that people carry around with them all the time. The access to technology for story telling is literally in our pockets!

The problem however is that most people only use these devices as phones or worse texting & email checking machines. Text is Archaic, having been around for thousands of years, yet we still use our super advanced technology to push around these little dark scribbles on white backgrounds. Sound and Image is infinitely more interesting. Lets take full advantage of the fact that our ability to produce it sits firmly in our back pockets.

Now that we see we have immediate access and the power to produce compelling media with devices that we all have access to the question becomes, “How do we Motivate others to make this revelation and start producing content?” To Answer that question let us turn to a little bit of sociology.

Sociologists loosely define a tribe as group of people who share a common ancestry and culture. This definition historically was used to focus narrowly on describing ‘tribal’ people and conjures up notions of tribal paint and fire dances with ritualistic behavior (thank you Apocalypse Now for burning those scenes into our brains).

A more modern definition of tribe expands on the distinction of ancestry and culture to focus on a group of people who share a common cultural identity. This identity is performed by a set of shared practices and rules (sociologists call them mores).

A tribe under this definition can be as simple as your church group or your baseball team or even your poker buddies.
We all belong to many different tribes that carry different rules of membership and practices. In order to ‘prove’ our membership within a particular group it is necessary to display our membership in one fashion or another.

Consider a ‘tribe’ of friends that enjoys baseball. Members of this group might communicate their membership of baseball fandom by wearing ball caps and jerseys while watching games together at their local sports bar. The practice of cheering for a team and talking about the sport within the language of the game helps constitute membership within the group.
In this instance we also see that articles of clothing have the power to communicate membership of the group. At first glance one can easily pick out the Red Sox fans and the Yankees fans within the bar. The lesson here is a very important one:

Objects communicate value.

The car you drive, the shoes you wear, and even the cereal you buy, on some level communicates something about who you are. It also says a lot about the company you keep as in the social groups you align your identity with.

If you drive a hybrid vehicle the odds are that you probably identify yourself within a environmentally conscious tribe. You might also see yourself in direct opposition to someone who chooses to drive a large gas guzzling suv. There are many things we might infer from your vehicle choice. The important thing to note is the power objects have in communicating value between groups. Objects become the ‘BADGE’ by which we signify our identities.

A ‘BADGE’ in this line of thinking is a place holder, a sign that communicates value within and between tribes of people.

The mobile social platform ‘BADGER’ takes this idea of badges of identity and tribal groups and turns it into social game. Groups or ‘Tribes’ are organized by ‘Crews’ that encompass similar interests between individuals. An individual seeks membership (and maintains membership) within a particular Crew by completing challenges and winning badges. Badges are attained by submitting evidence of a completed task in the form of a picture or video that the community at large votes on and deems worthy of a particular badge.

BADGER distinguishes itself from other social mobile platforms by maintaining its not just about PLACE its about PEOPLE. Or more specifically how people communicate value and their relationships to each other.

Sunday, April 11th, 2010