Blog Post

338 Badge Submissions! Read. Browse. Learn. Comment.

Yes, we had a betting pool.   Some of us (no names, please) felt we would succeed if we had fifty applications.  Some thought a hundred.  One optimist in the bunch was aiming at 200.  No one came even close to guessing 338 applications.   We are blown away.  As always, I personally am humbled by the reach, knowledge, social networking skills, and communication skills of the HASTAC team.   As always, I personally am humbled by how many amazing organizations, projects, and individuals around the world are committed to, in the words of our HASTAC motto, "learning the future together."   


This is a competition.  It's not a solution.  It's an attempt to think through possibility.   Are there negatives?  Of course!  Are there downsides?  Of course!   Are there things to fear before we've even begun?  Of course!   This is life, society, learning.   The present system is broken.   We're not going to mend all the breaks and solve all the problems . . . but unless people are willing to try something new, we're just carpers, grumpy about the present without providing models of possible, better futures.  In each and every Competition, my faith in the desire for change, for making things better, is revived again.    That people are willing to take a chance, to try, to not be content with the status quo, is in and of itself, reason to hope


When I wrote the "How We Measure" chapter of Now You See It, I was able to talk about lots of shortcomings of the 20th century method of measuring and assessing which, because of its rigidity, tends to reflect back on the ways we teach, learn, and reward.   Taylor's "scientific labor management" became the byword of 20th century workplace organization and, institutionalized by the multiple choice test (invented in 1914), education soon adopted what I have called "scientific learning management."   Standardization.  Uniformity.   A ridiculous way to learn, when you think about it, even in the 20th century, and irrelevant to all the ways we learn, interact, and customize on line.   


My friend the science writer Michael Chorost last night, in talking about this badges competition, used the phrase "reputational currency."   That's it.  What is the currency by which we exchange information about one another, building reputations in areas that may or may not have counted in the past, as honored by people who may or may not have "authority" to judge, but whose opinion matters and is to be respected?   


338 organizations thought this through carefully enough to submit an application to our Competition.  All those applications are viewable here:    There is a comment box on each and every one, inviting you to respond, to offer thoughts, to help to make the process and the application even better.    What an inspiring way for an organization to think through what it wants to count?  Reading these applications should help all of us imagine new "ways to measure."     Enjoy.  Learn.  Be Inspired.  And give back---leave a comment, as helpful as possible.   This isn't just for applicants, and certainly not just for the tiny handful of winners that will emerge from the process together.  We all can be "learning the future together."






Cathy N. Davidson is co-founder of HASTAC, and author of The Future of Thinking:  Learning Institutions for a Digital Age (with HASTAC co-founder David Theo Goldberg), and  Now You See It:  How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn (Viking Press).  NOTE:  The views expressed in NOW YOU SEE IT are solely those of the author and not of any institution or organization.  For more information, visit or order on by clicking on the book below.   To find out Cathy Davidson's book tour schedule, visit

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