Here’s the thing about the CueCat: it wasn’t that the hardware sucked, it’s that people aren’t going to scan things to go to a web page.
And yet now we have QR codes, which we’re laughing at, and which will disappear like an American Idol contestant.
QR codes, the CueCat, and other printed hyperlinks are just that. Links. They’re like the
<a> tag1. But they’re not useful enough yet in their own right to bear the weight of their use in advertisements.
Advertisements are parasites on useful and desirable tools we already understand. Like the
The web runs on
<a> tags. We love them. They fuel everything. And oh, yeah, some of them are ads. That’s an acceptable cost to many of us, though, because the others are so damn useful.
<a> tag have caught on if the only place you saw it was on an advertisement or flyer? Would you “click here for more information” if you knew it was going to be a come-on?
Pretty sure I wouldn’t. In fact, I’d probably learn to avoid anything that looked like a clickable link.
Just like I’ve learned to ignore the big square 2D barcodes cropping up in stores and ads.
QR codes are a limited but powerful tool for some innovative applications. It’s a damn shame that they’ve come to mean, “some asshole wants me to wave my phone at a big square on the subway so I can watch a commercial about how awesome he is”.
And right now they’re inconvenient, slow, ugly
<a>tags that require you to dredge out a piece of specialized hardware or software to use them. That’s not going to help either. ↩