I love this post. Wonderful. I'd hope to ride on your coattails Thesesa, at best...
My worry about a credential based society is that we reject the best of ourselves and each other. IMO conventional badges of most types are often about the (often illigitmate) support we get from class, framed innuendo, privilege and money.
As I see it, people who work within the boundaries of a set curriculum want value to be conferred upon them. That's what they signed up for. We wait for Peter R ( thanks Peter, I loved the course, and it was fascinating) and other annointed experts to tell us about our level of badgedom; I see we dont take up their challenge to nominate each other (much). You could say that we're wired this way, or that this behavior is our reptilian brain speaking. Whatever.
What I like about the prospect of open badges is that they represent an acknowledgement that we respond to outward signs or matches, and the current signs (I know a guy who recommends you, and it seems you have a degree in this, so you're hired) are limited, and not multi textured enough; not valuable enough. Still, our judgements, especially for work matches, rarely happen this way: a google search will flesh a resume's claims out considerably, along with a facebook search, an google image search, a linked in search.
Badges cut two ways: they allow us to display (ostentatiously, perhaps) tacit or non typical learning in a sypmbolic form - if we think we need it or want it. And, juxtaposed against very expensive, historically important badges ( University Degree, time effort in a structured curriculum and $50,000) they challenge both the texture of these badge's content, and in some cases, their value. What if I have a PHD from an unacclaimed Open University that is encrypted with its highly relevant curriculum and my standing, cross referneced to the teachers, their area of study and their reputation? In some cases, these "unofficial" badges might eclipse the value of the higher education system whose main focus is to create more research, and more professors. More important, people might be able to find valuable matches, quicker, and invest their time in adult education that is more apt - for them and their future.
Or not. I dont find badges very poetic, any kind of badge. But I know we tend to like them.