Sunday, March 2, 2014

Audible's badge model is fascinating to me...

I find Audible's whole model fascinating from a psychological standpoint.

There are 17 badgies that one can have.

And there are three levels (silver, gold and diamond) where one can have each.

To date, not a single person or wiki or blog I can find documents all seventeen of them, even when people claim to have emailed Audible directly (that usually gets a list of fifteen of them).

My actual interest is in reading or books I expect to enjoy and re-reading books I love in this fascinating new way that allows me to have the book read *to* me by someone else.

The only downsides to using the Audible App on my Nokia Lumia 1520 running Windows Phone 8 are some minor bugs I've reported to the App developers plus one I haven't yet reported (cannot change the speed at which the book is read to me) but I suspect that they would consider it by design.

I am left with the seventeen badges (only fifteen of which appear to be widely documented), none of which I am chasing though I've managed to snag thirteen just by being an obsessive (some might say compulsive) reader of books I enjoy.

I refuse to chase down the remaining three badges or how to raise to Diamond level any of the badges that are only at Silver or Gold level.

Though I find it fascinating how many of my own friends are obsessively or compulsively chasing them, for example when I find notes on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn (or maybe all three!) noting their reading habits, proving they are chasing after the "Social Butterfly" badge!

It can be easy to fall into such traps, though I would rather stay on target and just keep reading the books -- Audible (and thus Amazon!) gets the money anyway for the books I am reading by having them read to me.

The fifteen that are usually documented can be found at the following link:

I will list the seventeen badges, just for the record, and challenge anyone to explain how all seventeen of them work:

  • Stenographer
  • Audible Obsessed
  • Weekend Warrior
  • Repeat Listener
  • All Nighter
  • Marathoner
  • Undecider
  • Flash Eighty
  • High Noon
  • Binge Listener
  • Social Butterfly
  • Seven Day Stretch
  • Procrastinator
  • The Stack
  • Mount Everest
  • Look Ma No Buttons
  • Sleepy Head

The last two badges are the ones seldom mentioned though a Bing or Google search can dig out obscure references to the *hands free* and *sleep timer* features, which are both available on all platforms but are apparently not understood very well.

Let's just call them doc bugs, which actually means they are user interface bugs due them not being designed more intuitively, and documentation failed to adequately cover for the lapse.

The features themselves are pretty easy;  one lets you work backwards and forwards through the book and add bookmarks with gestures (although the unclear connection to related Speech commands would be an additional UI bug and perhaps even a badge bug!), and the other helps you guard against falling asleep by shutting off at a set time interval if you're afraid you might fall asleep soon.

Another simple search will reveal that a lot of people are completely obsessed with the game of obtaining Audible badges, which have no intrinsic value and which have no benefit beyond the sense of accomplishment after getting it.

Oh wait. Someone gave Amazon some money for the books. Can't forget about that bit, right? ;-)

I can see obvious avenues to take if I ever wanted to chase the remaining four badges (and I will admit to once wasting two hours chasing the *Repeat Listener* badge by listening to Samuel L. Jackson reading "Go The Fuck To Sleep", though it was in vain -- I think it knew what I was trying to do and I can't use a five minute book to do it. There must be a minimum time required rule or something.

And I haven't yet run across any books longer than thirty hours other than The Bible and as an agnostic M.O.T. I can't imagine being willing to put up with *that*. But maybe there are other interesting long books out there....

Getting back to the psychology of the Audible badges for just a moment, I think it is fascinating to consider the consequences of how exciting it must be to be to imagine some mythical Program Manager or Software Development Engineer at Amazon who spec'd out or wrote the Audible badge feature that makes extra revenue due solely to personality quirks of people who read! My hat is off to them!

Well, it isn't all altruism having nothing to do with the bottom line. For example, the Diamond level of the "7 Day Stretch" badge has a simple requirement: "Completed 50 books in a single week." That is not so much altruism as enlightened self interest."

Still brilliant, either way! I remain impressed at the psychology here! ;-)