At the STC 2011 Summit, there was some hype about QR Codes. What is a QR Code? What are they used for? Why?
A QR Code (short for Quick Response) is similar to a standard-looking barcode that contains data which can be read using a smart phone or QR code scanner. The data can contain information such as a URL, email address, contact information, etc.
I got into the act by buying a TweetUp badge this year from Robert Armstrong. That TweetUp badge only had a link to my Twitter account, yet at the STC 2011 Summit, people with smartphones and free QR reader apps could access the cryptic barcode and open up my Twitter page on their browser.
QR Code for Roger’s Twitter URL : http://www.twitter.com/torridence/
Besides putting codes on badges and novelty items, there is some practical uses. For example, Southwest and FedEx use similar barcode technology for their systems. That barcode contains the data printed on the boarding pass or shipping label. In addition, it phases out the magnetic strip that was commonly used on airline boarding passes. It makes for cheaper manufacturing and less paper waste since they are using flimsier sheets. When was the last time that you boarded a plane that had a magnetic strip boarding passes?
Southwest Boarding Pass
There are many other uses for QR Code technology and I hope it finds its way into everyday use where a TCer can simply put a QR code on a product or paper document and have a user scan it in to access supplemental information online on their mobile device. I can see an excellent use for QR codes on food products, where a shopper can scan the item and find recipes to make dinner. There still would be a technical communicator on the other side of the equation ensuring that the information is consistent and pertinent for the consumer.
What I regret the most about previous STC Summits is that I would receive business cards from professionals but I forgot why or how I met them. This year was different, I made it my personal effort to remember why I had their business card in my pocket. The best way I could remember who each person was because I took notes on the back-side of their card. That was just half the work.
The next job I had was to make room on my schedule to sit down and reflect on my time with them at the conference. Thankfully those notes on the reverse side essentially jogged my memory well enough to replay events in my mind so that way I could email them or connect with them through Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. I’m sorry for those in which I failed to remember why I have your card, but I genuinely do not want to forget about you. I’ll do some hunting on the STC Zerista and MySTC websites to figure out why and/or how I met you. In any case, find me first if you can!
Additionally, I connected with professionals via my online presence at the Summit. Each one found me from my Twitter updates and subsequently found my LinkedIn profile or searched for me on MySTC. I gave away business cards this year with my email address and websites. Thanks to Tony Chung, I was able to create a QR code and place that on my business card. Anyone with a smartphone can read my QR code and add my contact information easily.
I had a great time at the conference and I look forward to adding more professionals on LinkedIn and Twitter as everyone settles down and returns back to work. I hope to stay in touch with as many as possible throughout the year until we meet again in 2012 in Chicago.