On the Cultural Studies list serve today, Glen Fuller asked a questionabout QR (Quick Response) codes and I said I'd post it to the HASTACsite and see if he got any responses from our readers. Feel free touse the comment box below this posting for anything yo want to say toour friend in Australia
Hi Cultural Studies list and, now, HASTAC'rs)--
was discussing commodity fetishism with a class a week or so ago and presented what I thought was simply a thought experiment about being able to access information about labour practices of companies by scanning barcodes with a mobile phone to access a database on the company, etc. One of my students pointed out her phone scans barcodes and so I have been reading various sites and forums about this relatively new technology (which isn't new at all in Japan, btw!!).
I was wondering if there have been any attempts to use QR (quick response) codes for, firstly, subverting purely commercial-advertising purposes and, secondly, providing critical information in the form of labour relation practices and like by companies? Any colleagues/activists in Japan looking into this?
The closest thing I have found so far in my googling are two reports about accessing food information through QR codes:
"In the supermarket, consumers use camera equipped cell phones to scan the QR code on the label. The code links to a mobile website detailing origin, soil composition, organic fertilizer content percentage (as opposed to chemical), use of pesticides and herbicides and even the name of the farm it was grown on. Consumers can also access the same information over the Ibaraki Agricultural Produce Net website by inputting a numbered code on each label."
And this brief report from DoMoCo that outlines how QR codes have been used in an educational capacity for learning about the nutritional requirements:
"After learning about daily food requirements and nutritional balance through lectures and quizzes, parents and children formed pairs to participate in a rally-style quiz on vegetables using mobile phones. Children used their handsets to read the QR code (a "Quick Response" barcode used on consumer products in Japan) affixed to vegetables, and then communicate with their parents to answer the quiz questions displayed on the handset screen. The trial pointed to the potential of mobile phones to serve as learning tools that can be used anywhere at any time."
As most phones nowadays can have many gb SD cards, a downloadable wiki-based database of critical consumer information seems possible. I have no idea about the technical dimensions of the various phone software platforms, etc. My understanding is that developers should be able to produce such software for a variety of phones.
Thanks to Flickr community members Superlocal and 5-Volt for posting these images (which you can click on for more images and for full documentation).