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Why do we do what we do on the web?

SXSW. Day two keynote. Seth Priebatsch’s The game layer on top of the world. Didn’t know what to expect.

Came out beaming, energised, in awe of what a room of 3000 people had achieved in one minute [this crazy card swapping experiment that highlighted the power of decentralised networks and people working together for a cause], and of the new layer that was going to sit on top of the web and make everything better.

Talked about it with everyone, came back home, talked about it some more, ardently defended it in a Twitter exchange just yesterday, and then tonight, after a day ruined by some areshat walking through the wrong door, I started reading up on gamification yet again. The doubt seeped in, and now I’m writing this.

Or maybe it started with that Twitter exchange yesterday, and Pon quoting Josh Williams, co-founder and CEO of Gowalla.

Badges are bullshit. Social validation is the primary driver of activity on the web.

I have been thinking about this over and over, nodding to myself in agreement. He’s right, you know.

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