Some tech innovations seem great, until you try to use them in the real world. Exhibit A is the QR Code.
And Exhibit B would be the effort in New Orleans to “save Ladder 5.” If Ladder 5 doesn’t get saved we can probably blame QR Codes.
Ladder 5 is a firehouse that, because of budget woes, is slated to be decommissioned. Folks in uptown New Orleans are dismayed, and have started a campaign to prevent that from happening.
Here’s the sign that grassroots organizers created to get their message out. Is this a picture that tells 1,000 words?
No, it’s a sign that raises lots of questions. It provides no answers (indeed, no information whatsoever), unless you know how to decipher QR codes.
Sure, there’s an app for that. It’s free and you can get it for an iPhone or Android device. But are you going to pull out your iPhone, drill down to that app, and take the time to point it at the code and then wait for your phone’s browser to navigate to the mystery site?
No, you’re probably not.
QR codes must have seemed like a good idea to someone. And some other people must have thought it was a good idea to sprinkle them everywhere: magazine ads, business cards, and yardsigns.
Ideas that seem good in theory often turn out to be horrendous in practice. We now have some experience with QR codes, and here are some obvious conclusions.
QR codes are butt ugly. And they make it harder, not easier, to access information.
But, other than that, they’re great.