Wikipedia today introduced a program called QRPedia, a QR code creation service that lets users snap a picture of a QR code and be automatically directed to a linked mobile Wikipedia entry in whatever written language their phone uses. If there’s no article in their language for the designated topic, the program directs them to the most relevant related article that is available in that language. If you don’t have a QR reader on your phone, I use the Google iPhone app, myself.
I dare you to find a cooler example of QR codes in action than QRPedia. Originally built at England’s Derby Museum and Gallery (by the museum’s Wikipedian in Residence!) the service is now available to anyone online. Multiple museums around the world have already put it to use, posting QR codes on the wall next to items on display. That’s what the Internet is for, people, for taking the reality we’re standing in front of and exploding it with a world of additional information available on demand.
This is sci-fi stuff. In the movies there would be a button on real world objects that you could click, and then a projected 3D Princess Leia or whatever would offer you a lecture about everything humanity knows about the object you’re in front of, and everything that’s related. In whatever language you speak. Instead, it’s here now and it’s on our phones. And it’s Wikipedia.
I sure hope this catches on all over the place. Its adoption may be limited by the bravery required to point people to the collective consciousness, publicly editable discussion online about yourself or your organization.
Do people use QR codes? Outside the US they do and have for years. Inside the US, I believe it’s becoming increasingly common. Last week for example, I was in New York City and saw a real estate company with a big poster of its listings in its front window, with QR codes for each home you could buy. Passers by could snap that code and save the particular listing on their phones, to learn more and follow up. Imagine if that same display included a QRpedia code for the neighborhood each home was in. There are lots of possibilities.
QRPedia codes can be generated now at QRPedia.org. Maybe you should go print up a thousand of them about the neighborhood you live in on stickers and stick them around on the street. Imagine visiting from another country and finding those. If I ever get to visit another planet with life on it, I hope I find something like this there.