The Awl notes — with, shall we say, skepticism — Google’s creation “news badges.” Which means what? Here’s what Google says:
Starting today, in the U.S. edition of Google News, you can see how voracious a news reader you are by earning Google News badges as you read articles about your favorite topics….
We have more than 500 badges available, so no matter what kind of news you’re into, there’s a badge out there for you.
Your badges are private by default, but if you want, you can share your badges with your friends. Tell them about your news interests, display your expertise, start a conversation or just plain brag about how well-read you are.
Google News Blog: Shareable Google News badges for your favorite topics)