I've been in an on-going discussion about QR Codes.
You know, those black graphics that look like a piece of the cardboard cover on one of those Mead Composition Wireless Notebooks? At least that's what the image reminded me of the first time I saw one.
This one is the QR code that contains the URL for SlingWords. You'll also see it at the bottom of the near right sidebar here on the blog.
What's The Big Deal
You might wonder what the big deal is about these and why anyone would want one. So let's talk about it.
A QR Code, meaning Quick Response Code, is a type of matrix barcode, that is, two-dimensional code. It was designed for the automotive industry. More recently, like early this year, the QR code system became popular outside of the auto industry because of its fast readability and comparatively large storage capacity for data within the matrix.
The graphic you see is actually coded information consisting of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The encoded information can be just about any kind of data, i.e., binary, alphanumeric, or even Japanese Kanji characters.
You see, QR codes were created by Denso Wave, a subsidiary of Toyota, in 1994, to track vehicles during the manufacturing process. Because of the two-dimensional design, the QR code allows its information content to be decoded at a high speed. Time is money.
Naturally, this bar code technology has seen its greatest use in Japan, but the UK is the seventh-largest consumer of QR codes in the world.
Fast Forward To Now
This year, the QR code use has blossomed thanks to Smartphones. They're used in a wide range of applications: commercial tracking, entertainment, transport ticketing, product marketing and in-store product labeling.
If you've got a Smartphone, there's a free app you can get to use as a QR Code Reader. I use TapMedia as the QR Reader on my iPhone. All you do is open the app, hold it to scan the image, and it gives you the encoded image. I just checked the image I placed in this post, and, sure enough, it read it as Joan Reeves aka SlingWords.
If you don't have an app on your Smartphone, get one. Tap Media is free, but there are others. Just do a search at your phone's app store, and you can find one.
The second part of the equation is a QR Code Generator. I like apps that cost nothing if they work well. To generate my QR Codes for the blog and website, I used QR Code Kaywa.com.
There are uses beyond encoding your URLs such as mobile-tagging where you can receive texts and special offers, etc.
How Authors Can Use
Now we get to the real issue. How can an author use a QR Code? I'm using mine in print materials. I donate books and bookmarks to various libraries. I put my QR Code, that little black graphic, on bookmarks, flyers, brochures, anything that I give away.
It's just another way for someone to find you--fast and easily--online. It's easy, no remembering a web address, no jotting down the URL, no inputting it into a browser. Just whip out the Smartphone, scan the QR Code, and they're there.
Chances are you're already seeing them in magazine blow-in cards, signs, buses, business cards, and just about anything where information can be stuck for someone with a Smartphone to read.
By the way, linking from a physical world object to an online site is called hardlinking or object hyperlinking. It's a fascinating subject, and there's an excellent Wiki on it.
Embrace new options for communication--especially when it's something so easy.
Note: If Joan Reeves aka SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider buying one of my books (Written Wisdom is perfect for writers--readers too!), subscribing (only $.99 per month) to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords,or making a donation of any amount by clicking the button below. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.