Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Will FTC Disclosures Become the new Foursquare Badges?

When people try to censor things (for good or bad reasons), one unintended result of this is that the censorship itself makes the censored item more attractive. I'm old enough to remember the entire brouhaha about backwards masking, or the idea that demonic music artists were intentionally putting backwards messages into their songs, causing subliminal messages to enter the listeners' minds. So what happened? I remember at least one band advertising that its album contained backwards masking.

Jake Kuramoto recently wrote a post about receiving free stuff at conferences, which prompted Louis Gray to remind people of the FTC disclosure badges that he had previously posted on his blog. For example, when I won my copy of PeopleSoft Developer's Guide for PeopleTools & PeopleCode (picture here) at last year's Oracle OpenWorld, I should have included this FTC disclosure badge:

The only problem with badges, however, is that people want to collect them all. I'm sure that a lot of Foursquare users are trying to get every badge out there. (For the record, I currently have 13.)

What if people tried to get EVERY FTC disclosure badge?

Take a look at the list of badges again. Now I've received a free book (the PeopleSoft book above), I've been fed (at several Oracle OpenWorld blogger meetups, among other places), I've gotten some nice schwag bags here and there, and I've even gotten some sweet gadgets (I got a watch once, but the battery died and it was too expensive to replace).

However, I have never received stock options, except from my own employers. Considering the stock market's performance, stock options may or may not be a good thing anyway.

This leads us to the last two disclosure badges in Louis Gray's post:

"writer got busy w/member of story"
"writer did time w/member of story"

Now I have not earned those two badges, and I seriously doubt that Louis Gray, Jake Kuramoto, Jason Teitelman, Ren LaForme, or any well-known tech blogger has earned those badges. (Well, perhaps Kevin Mitnick can lay claim to the second of the two badges, based upon his past life.)

But are there people who will try to earn those badges, just to make their FTC disclosure badge collection complete? I haven't found any yet, but I'm still looking.
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