What’s the Deal with QR Codes?

Last week we posted QR codes linked to our blogs around the campus at school. As someone who had already heard of QR codes before, I had high hopes for them. Well, maybe not high hopes, but I figured we would get a few views from the codes, and maybe a new follower or two. So it not hard to imagine my disappointment when I checked the analytics for the code: a whopping one click. A little bit underwhelming to say the least.

But what could possibly have gone wrong? In theory QR codes are probably the greatest thing since sliced bread.

They provide a quick and easy way to link to A website phone number or email. They provide a physical link to your blog that doesn’t need to be memorized or written down, but at the same time can be easily shared without making multiple copies.Their uses are endless.

But if it wasn’t some flaw in their design, why were they so ineffective  I think my classmate summed it up perfectly when he shared his friends reaction to the blanket of QR codes that no covers are school: “What the f@&$ are all these papers.”  It wasn’t some flaw in the idea; it was a flaw in the audience.  After talking with some of the people in my classes, I realized the majority had no idea what QR codes were. In fact, when our teacher first assigned this task only a handful of people knew what they were.

This brought me back to thinking about Galaxy Quest, a movie we watched in class. The main characters are actors in a show called galaxy quest, a parody of Star Trek. When viewed by an informed audience, the show is well received.  It amasses a large fan base with millions of devoted followers. Although there are a few crazy fans, for the most part they know that it not real and take it for what is entertainment and enjoy it as that. However, when the broadcasts or the show are intercepted on space by a alien race with no concept of television, things go disastrously wrong. The shows are perceived as “historical documents” and the actors thought to be genuine space captains. Needless to say, this causes a lot of trouble.

In many ways, our situation is much like that of Galaxy Quest. While our QR codes make sense to those who know what they are, those who are unfamiliar with them might jump to the wrong conclusions, which could have unwanted results.  Someone has already expressed concern that the codes might link to inappropriate images. This is true, but a QR code is no worse than someone posting an inappropriate link or an actual inappropriate picture around school. I think as we’re trying something new, we need to be careful and clarify what QR codes really are before people make their own conclusions or avoid them all together.  If we don’t, we might find ourselves captain of a ship we can’t control.


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