Originally, I was going to title this post, “My Thoughts On Streaking”, but at the last moment, I thought that just might seriously send the wrong message and draw the wrong kind of attention. :). But I do want to talk about streaks today because I’ve come to recognize that for me, they’re an incredible motivator and I’d really love to figure out why.
What do I mean by streak? You’ve probably come across them in apps that recognize you for using them consistently. For example, yesterday, I got a notification from WordPress recognizing my 6-day streak because I’ve posted to my blog consistently for the past six days. But these streaks are everywhere: My journaling app, Day One, shows my current streak which is based on my writing at least one entry per day. The app I use to help me manage weight loss, Lose It!, shows a streak based on the number of days I log all my meals. And these are just two examples, my phone and digital life are filled with many many more.
I think the first time I really started noticing and paying attention to streaks was with the old version of what is now called Swarm. Swarm is a check-in app that allows you to virtually “check in” to a location and share that check-in with your friends. I thought the idea behind this was cool because seeing the places that my friends were checking in to, gave me ideas on places I might want to visit. In fact, I’ve tried many restaurants and attended many events inspired by the check-ins of my friends. Swarm took this concept one step further though and made it possible for users to become a virtual mayor of a place if they had the most check-ins at that place. I absolutely loved this concept and collected many virtual mayorships; I was even the proud virtual mayor of a number of bus stops in Minneapolis at one point. And while these virtual mayorships didn’t have any real value, I was absolutely hooked by the gamification of it all. In fact, I was even a tiny bit sad when my little mayorship empire was overthrown after a job change no longer necessitated my visiting my usual bus stops.
And so I’m curious, is anyone else motivated by streaks? I mean I figure people must connect with them in some way as otherwise apps wouldn’t have them, and yet, I haven’t heard anyone really talking about this topic or the psychology behind it. So, what do you think, or what have your own experiences been with streaks? Let me know in the comments below. And with that, I better get this entry posted quickly, so that I hit my 7-day blogging streak. 🙂