QR Codes and Modern Hieroglyphics

5 Nov

Or, Beam me up, QR Code.

QR Code SignAs part of launching our new brand at work, we’re getting new business cards.  This announcement is more exciting in Oprah Voice – “You’re all getting new business cards!”  And, the new business cards will have QR codes on them.  (“You’re all getting QR codes!”)  Clearly this announcement should inspire couch jumping.  Actually, it’s inspired me to spend way too many hours staring at squiggly little boxes.

“But Maggie, what’s a QR code?”

“Thank God, I worried that your question was going to be what’s Oprah, and then I was going to worry about you.”

BorgQR Codes, or quick response codes, are the aforementioned squiggly little boxes.  They’re the black and white boxes that you’ve been seeing popping up everywhere, from for sale signs to magazine ads.  (There’s even a company installing them on roofs.)  QR codes are literally codes (as the name implies), but they can’t be read by humans (even Navajos), only computers.

QR codes serve as a link between the real and virtual worlds.  They pull you into the virtual world and direct you to a particular point on the internet.  They can direct you to any web address or send information directly to your phone.  Scanning a QR code turns your phone (or tablet or what have you) into a window to the internet.  They say books take you places, so do QR codes.

So, no, the Borg haven’t taken over, the Cylons haven’t arrived.  The world isn’t turning 8 bit.  It’s just becoming more interactive.

Squiggly little boxes of amazing possibilities

QR and PhoneReally there are all kinds of philosophical directions to take a blog post about QR codes, but I’m currently much more interested in the aesthetics.  Maybe it’s because after you look at hundreds of these little boxes, you get a bit crosseyed and you start thinking about why they look the way they do, and what they remind you of.  They’re one of those things that can be both startlingly simple and confoundingly complex at the same time.

We’re covering our world (or more our cities) with symbols that we can’t read.  We’re creating modern hieroglyphics that are a mystery to even their creators.  Each of our phones is our own pocket sized Rosetta Stone, and god help those that don’t have one.  We’ve created a visual language that it takes technology (and money) to learn to read.  It’s a secret code of the haves, the young, and the technologically inclined. 

Beam Me Up, ScottyAs I stare at the sea of QR codes covering my desk, my mind wanders and I think about where I want them to take me.  I don’t want a QR code to send me my colleague’s contact information; I want it to start me on a thrilling adventure.  I want it to scan an errant code and uncover a government conspiracy.  I want it to actually open a portal to take me, and not just the screen of my phone, to a new world.  I want them to take me on a journey that’s Dan Brown meets Star Trek, with a little Back to the Future thrown in.  I want to go everywhere that books take Belle:  far off places, daring swordfights, magic spells, a prince in disguise.

Question of the day: Where do you want a QR code to take you?

MaggieCakes is a blog about social media, marketing, culture, and what’s new on the internet written by me, Maggie O’Toole.  Every day (that’s such a lie, maybe once or twice a week) I comb blogs and news outlets for the news about internet culture and social media to bring them to you (with my commentary, of course) here on MaggieCakes. Find anything interesting in the worlds of tech, culture, or social media that you’d like to see a post on? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at 2maggieotoole@gmail.com.

3 Responses to “QR Codes and Modern Hieroglyphics”

  1. Wings of Wonder November 8, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    I think I am out of my league reading your blog, but it may help me to understand this changing world. Thanks…you have a sense of humor which makes the almost foreign language of things like QR codes, learnable by a non-tech person.

    • Maggie O'Toole November 10, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

      Aww, don’t say that. If you’re someone who’s interesting in reading and thinking about tech and culture, then this is for you. Even though you might not realize it, by reading blog posts about QR codes, you’re probably more techy than about 95% of the populations.


  1. QR Codes and Modern Hieroglyphics | AniseSmith QR codes | Scoop.it - November 5, 2011

    […] QR Codes and Modern Hieroglyphics Or, Beam me up, QR Code. As part of launching our new brand at work, we’re getting new business cards.  This announcement is more exciting in Oprah Voice – “You’re all getting new busines… Source: maggiecakes.wordpress.com […]

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