An article in today's edition of USA Today entitled "Why those funny new cellphone bar codes will take over the world" attempts to convince us that, well, those funny new cellphone bar codes will take over the world. But I'm not convinced. The funny codes in question? QR (Quick Response) codes, which were actually created 17 years ago in Japan by a Toyota subsidiary. And they're still nothing more than a gimmick in the United States, used mostly, as far as I can tell, on the pages of special editions of magazines like Entertainment Weekly to allow readers to watch movie trailers while they read the reviews of Owen Gleiberman.
You know them. QR codes look like random smatterings of black and white blocks and they're meant to be scanned quickly by a smartphone or other device that has a QR reader installed. (If you try scanning the generic QR code that I embedded in the post to
remind you what these things look like -- you needed reminding since you
probably haven't seen them in quite some time, if at all -- and it
takes you to an NSFW site, my apologies; I didn't have the patience to
test it out.) They act as auto-links, basically. Instead of typing out an address and clicking enter, you can search for a QR reader, install it on your smartphone and, when you come across a QR code, pull out your phone, find and open the reader you previously installed and then wave it over the code until it registers and loads another page. Voila! So simple.