Friday, March 19, 2010

Meanwhile, at that other trade show ...

I spent much of last week chatting with student journalists at the College Media Advisers convention here in New York.
And since I was at the CMA conference, I could not be at the South by Southwest conferences -- the uber-events revolving around music, movies and emerging tech.
And that's fine. I'm really more the New York businessman type than I am tech enthusiast. And I much prefer chatting with college kids to networking with entertainment execs.
In fact, although it's a decidedly unhip thing to admit, I've never been to SXSW.
But it would be disingenuous to suggest that SXSW isn't important to me -- at least on the tech side. I need to know what folks at SXSW think is cool. Because, as we've seen with applications like Twitter, an item dubbed cool at SXSW often becomes crucial to the media industry.

So imagine my surprise and delight to find that the breakout application at this year's SXSW is apparently the QR code -- an application I've been promoting for ages and that I've written about here. I love the potential of QR codes, and I'm proud to say that one of my clients has had remarkable success using QR code to drive print readers to Web sites.
So I'm feeling positively hip and ahead of the curve.

Note: The news that the coolest app at SXSW is sort of old may mean that my sense "the media revolution is ending" is right. On the other hand, one student at the CMA convention suggested to me that the next "game changer" is the Sixth Sense device, from MIT.
I'd seen the demo of Sixth Sense from TED last year. But after reading about QR code at SXSW and talking to that student, I went back and looked at the video again.
I think you'll agree that device is pretty interesting, even amazing ... but since it doesn't really exist yet, it's premature to call it a "game changer."
However, it's worth noting that the device will exist some day soon. And one of the things the device could benefit from is a world where QR codes are more common.
So now maybe someone will modify one of my older (and maybe better) ideas and use QR codes as an editorial tool by adopting the concept of spatial annotation.


  1. Paul, this sounds like the Cue Cat thing from many years ago. jim

  2. Hi Jim,
    That's a common reaction. But I disagree.
    Cue Cat was a truly awful product. And all it really did was to push scanning back several years in the U.S.
    The core difference between Cue Cat and QR code is that Cue Cat required a special device ( whereas QR code can be read on your phone.
    Another difference worth noting is that Cue Cat never developed a user base, whereas QR code is already widely used in other parts of the world:

  3. Dave BlanchardMarch 31, 2010

    >> In fact, although it's a decidedly unhip thing to admit, I've never been to SWSX. <<

    Not to make you feel even less hip, but it's actually abbreviated SXSW (the X taking the place of the word "by"). Acronyms will be the death of us all...

  4. Hi Dave,
    Thanks for catching the error. (I've corrected the abbreviation in the original post.)
    And don't worry -- you couldn't make me feel any less hip than I already do. Feeling unhip is a constant at my age!)


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