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July 13, 2007

Filed under: journalism»new_media

Machine Readable

For my own future reference:

QR codes are a way to turn text information (including vCards) into a two-dimensional pattern. Anything with a camera and the right software (read: cell phones, PDAs, computers) can decode that information back into text, URL, or metadata form. If it's got a decent screen, it could even encode it for another device. The codes are common in Japan, but several manufacturers (including Microsoft and Nokia) have made moves towards more widespread usage.

I'm interested in this because it blurs the line between print and digital in a very cheap and easy-to-create way, and I see my career headed in that direction. Clearly, print's not going anywhere, but a lot of people right now are looking at scenarios to integrate it with online information in a smart way. Cell phones are becoming smarter, and as they do they're a natural vector for information, but it's almost always a pain to get information into them, whether you're using T9 or a soft keyboard. And why type when you can have it read the URL for you?

So a magazine might be able to link articles from print to online in very little space, so that anyone with a smartphone can explore related materials. Music publications could link to sound samples. And I can put a QR-encoded vCard onto my business card, and then someone can add me to their phone or Outlook contacts just by taking a picture of it.

And these are just what first comes to mind. I need to think about this for a while.

Future - Present - Past