A Checkerboard on LSD: The QR Code

Have you seen them?  You know those goofy looking and aesthetically unpleasing QR codes (Quick Response codes) that are cropping up in the most unexpected places? Created by a Toyota subsidiary in the mid-1990s to track auto parts, QR codes were designed to deliver more information than the traditional barcode.

Here is my QR Code.

They kind of look like a checkerboard on LSD.   Anyone can get one. But, evidence has shown that the majority of us don’t know what the heck to do with them.

And what’s more, they appear in what would otherwise be a perfect piece of “eye candy” advertising.  I personally equate the appearance to a big zit on a super model’s face.

The whole point of a QR code is to make it easier for Smartphone users to interact with their surroundings by pointing the camera of the phone at the code, scanning it and then reviewing the information on their web browser. That is IF the proper app is installed in the phone.

In his recent blog, QR Codes Are the Roller-Skating Horses of Advertising, Alexis Madrigal says that “Comscore released data indicating that “14 million people, or 6.2% of mobile users, scanned QR codes in the month of June.” Forrester says that about 5 percent of Americans use QR codes. And there is widespread confusion about how precisely these things are supposed to work, despite years of marketers telling us about them, even among tech-friendly groups like college students.”

For now, my opinion given the low adoption rate of this technology and confusion surrounding it is that the QR code is novelty at the least and an eyesore at best.

Share with me a QR code you have recently encountered. Did you scan it? And if so, what appeared in your Smartphone browser that was unique to the marketing campaign?

How creative. And how much would my hairdresser charge me for that?


Are you a Friend with Words?

I do not consider myself to have an “addictive personality”.  Aside from the monster bowl of ice cream, I can easily walk away from any pursuit to concentrate on something new to balance my brain and its synapses.

That was until I was introduced to the game “Words with Friends”. You know, that online game that is so similar to Scrabble, but you play it virtually with friends from near and far?

Now I know why Alec Baldwin got so snappy on his flight when the crew asked him to kindly power down his electronic device. He was playing “Words with Friends” And I suspect that my obsession is pretty close in line with his.

Admittedly I am not that good at the game. For the past 5 weeks, my friends have consistently beat me at every game.  I admire my friends, they are smart with words. But I can’t stop playing.  I am a glutton for punishment – please Tom in Maryland, beat me by 300 points just so I can have the pleasure of connecting with you.  Shelley in Minnesota just placed 5 tiles that totaled 56 points….statistically; I am going to lose that game! And my sister in New Jersey is getting me back for all those times I beat her as a kid in any game we played.

Is this the next Pet Rock?

One Saturday evening it was evident that my nine friends playing all had the same plan for the evening:   NOTHING.  Granted, all of my friends live in other states making it impossible for an impromptu house party, but just think of how much fun it could have been if we could all connect in person?

Is this game a passing fad? In 10 years will we chuckle reminiscing about the phenomenon? Or, is the game a commentary on how technology has changed the way we connect and interact given that the American population is more mobile than ever? What do you think?

For now, I am just grateful to have a geographically diverse group of intelligent and witty friends who think enough of me to want to play.