QR as a Metaphor






And now, I kindly ask that you please share your thoughts, whatever they might be.

Update: I think I might have to toss in the towel on this one. I thought it would allow for people to respond in kind, but I had forgotten about WordPress and its desire not to be cooperative with such things.

Basically, what I wrote is that I think QR is a good metaphor for the digital divide. Some people can get the meaning of what the codes represent and others cannot. The seperation of access to one technology piece instantly creates the two groups. Libraries are an important institution since they represent a way of the have-nots (when it comes to computers and internet access) can bridge the divide.

I thought it might drive the point home to use something like a QR code. We can debate whether I’m right or wrong as well.

21 thoughts on “QR as a Metaphor

  1. What an interesting idea. You have forced me to download a QR reader to my Android phone, and to finally figure out what the heck QR codes are and do. I’ve seen them around before, but never thought they were much more than a barcode.

    I’m looking forward to reading the conversation here, and seeing what others think about QR code use, especially by libraries, as well as how libraries will help to bridge the technology divide for those without smart phones.

  2. small group of us have been exploring QR codes but one question is how to communicate that info to those who do not have a device to read a QR. I’m not sure we even loan devices that we would read them (we loan laptops, ipads, etc.)


  3. The gist of what I said in my first code (which was a ‘just because I can’ thing) was that I don’t think it will ever be *necessary* to be able to read a QR code. Unless you have smug technophilic jackasses (like me) purposefully obscuring information in them, as far as I can tell the limit of their use is as an abbreviation, a way to succinctly convey a link or an address book entry to hand out at trade shows.

    People can put them in email/forum signatures or business cards. Have a code with an http link to your website and a mailto: link to allow people to scan and email you instantly. But if you don’t also include the text equivalent of this information, a terrible accessibility, usability and common sense error, then yeah: you’ll be excluding people. But you’re probably silly enough that it won’t matter.

  4. Every time I see a QR code without a printed URL (or the other new coding systems such as Microsoft’s color tags), I assume the agency is deliberately saying “We specialize in the privileged; the rest of you should go elsewhere.” And, you know, this post didn’t convince me to (a) buy a smartphone (b) download a QR reader (c) congratulate myself on being privileged.

    So maybe I’m saying what you are…

    • Previous to this post, I knew so little about QR codes that I wouldn’t have known that any accompanying URL would have been linked to the code. However, you make a good point about accessibility. I can’t imagine that library or librarian would (outside of a post like this one) purposefully segregate any section of the population through making data inaccessible to them. However, if accompanied by other ways to access the information (such as a URL), providing an easy way to access information on mobile devices is a service that would probably be appreciated by those who use them. Typing a URL on a touch screen can be maddening. Scanning a QR code is a nice alternative. IF you know what the hell it is and what they are for.

  5. I just got a new smartphone yesterday, so I finally get to see what all the fuss is about. Great way to make the point about the digital divide. I personally don’t think QR codes will stick around for long. There must be a better way to produce “human readable” real-life links that let people in on the joke even if they don’t have the necessary hardware.

    (Discussed this just a few weeks ago with friends from library school: http://klubkatalog.blogspot.com/2010/12/not-so-sure-about-qr-codes.html)

  6. The first time I scanned th first code, I got some sort of greeting card with a pig on it. It scanned correctly the second time though.

    My college has a business card with hours, locations, phone numbers and website information on the front, and a QR code that links to the same information on the back.

    As long as the information is posted in formats that are accessible to everyone, I don’t have a problem with using QR to reach out to those who have access to that specific technology.

  7. Pingback: Comment Response to QR as a Metaphor blog post « A Dog and Her Girl

  8. QR codes don’t do much for me either, as I don’t have a smartphone that’s actually a phone. On the other hand, I wouldn’t say I’m on the “other” side in the digital divide either. I have a personal desktop at home as well as an iPad and innumerable other electronic doodads. I do not happen to have a device that will read a QR code when I am away from wifi or ethernet. However, according to some report or other from the good folks at Pew, people who can afford only one network device often choose a smartphone so in fact, mobile may not be the elite technology. I do agree with other commenters that providing only a QR code without a human readable URL is all kinds of problematic. I have seen a few good uses, such as putting them on staff contact web pages so people can easily grab contact information, or putting them on OPAC records so people can bring that one record up on their phone and use it to go to the stacks without writing down a call number. Those kind of uses don’t disenfranchise anyone and they make good use of the technology for moving inconvenient bits of information from a desktop to mobile.

  9. QR codes have some use — look at your most recent packages from UPS or Fedex and you’ll see them.

    In Libraryland, however, I can’t see them as useful in areas where most folks don’t have a phone with the capability, or in small library systems unless a program is being done on smartphone capabilities.

    Additionally, lack of broadband/wifi/3G service also limits QR code effectiveness, as most folks don’t want to wait for data to download over slower services such as AT&T’s EDGE network. Live there, do that.

    That being said, this is a great idea for a post, Andy! I like to flex my tech muscles every once in a while as well, and you sir, are ripped! It is well worth exploring technologies that are new and sometimes foreign just to see if you can, and sometimes you find something that takes your abilities and efforts to the next level.

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