QR Codes as Historical Markers

Are QR Codes the historical markers of the future and has the future already arrived?

My proposal involves the creation and use of QR Codes to enable visitors at an historical site or museum to easily access an on-line historical resource, such as a related blog post, a Wikipedia article, or a smartphone app that enables users to explore additional digital content.

This QR Code (generated by the RedLaser Classic app) will link your mobile device to Lower Scioto Blog and my recent post on Picnic Point, a scenic overlook in Ohio's Shawnee State Forest.

I imagine that this session could fall under the genre of a “general discussion.” First off, let me say, I only yesterday figured out how to create QR codes on my iPhone (see the code on the left) and besides an NPR story about the use of QR codes on headstones for on-line memorials, I’ve not heard or read about how QR codes are being used in public history projects.  I’m just interested in learning more and thinking creatively about what uses QR codes can be put to in the practice of digital history.

To illustrate a possible use, imagine that you are in an art gallery, which is exhibiting documentary images of local points of interest in your community.  Next to one set of images, affixed to the wall, is a QR code directing any interested party who happens to have a smartphone to a historical blog or some other digital resource about the documented historical site.  Imagine physically imbedding QR codes on signs at historical sites.  Imagine QR codes as modern-day historical markers.

Perhaps a general discussion of the possible uses of QR code and GPS mapping technology in the marking of historical sites could be the topic of general discussion?



Categories: General, Session Proposals |

6 Responses to QR Codes as Historical Markers

  1. Jasmine Alinder says:

    The QR code may relate to another topic I would like to learn more about. Given that there is less of a digital divide with mobile device use than with the use of standard computers/internet access, how might digital archives and other online histories that were originally created for computers be redesigned for mobile devices?

  2. Sarah Corso says:

    The QR code/historical marker idea is what drew me to THAT Camp in the first place. I can think of several applications for this and would welcome a session that would generate even more ideas!

  3. Learniply says:

    The free web application offered by www.learniply.com allows you to create mobile web pages and generate QR Codes that you can place anywhere – from art galleries and museums to restaurants and coffee shops – allowing anyone with a smartphone to locate the mobile web page that you just created. This web page is created and hosted through your free Learniply account.

  4. Sorry – I completely messed up the HTML in that last post (I’m not a techie). The links should appear here:


    web pages

    Audio guide

    Video guide

  5. I would like to learn more about QR codes, especially how to make one that leaves a positive impression on the user. With so many products going to QR codes the market is becoming saturated, so I would like to find a good way to use it without it becoming one of those you ignore.

  6. Hi Jenn

    I’m sure you realise that the important thing is not the QR code itself, but what happens when it is scanned. Let’s look at some quick do’s and don’ts (this is off the top of my head, so forgive any omissions)…

    — Do —

    1. Use them around your site to enhance the interpretation – they are not only a marketing tool
    2. Make sure they works in any specific location you put them (test on different networks – consider free wi-fi at your venue if necessary)
    3. Make it lead to a mobile-optimised page THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT and a common mistake
    4. Make the landing page directly relevant to the place the person is standing
    5. Include audio or video guides if you have the bandwidth (I see you have some good ones on Napier) by putting them in public repositories and pointing your codes at them (which you can do at no/low cost with Q-Action) I prefer to use repositories like Dropbox or Google Drive in preference to You Tube as you don’t get the ads and distraction of other videos.
    6. Use a CMS so that you can devolve content contribution to many volunteers (see below)

    — Don’t —

    1. Fiddle with the QR code design – is is a standard so that it reads reliably even under poor light/reflections/faded code tags
    2. Send users to your normal home page (except perhaps from your main leaflet)

    As well as the Q-Action, which is a self-service public offering on a ‘freemium’ basis, we are currently piloting at some UK heritage sites ‘Q-Point’ which is backed by a CMS engine that enables more comprehensive management and customisation of the system, including networking volunteers into an on-line community and facilitating their work. We have a major open event at an Iron Age hill fort on July 1st to test this with the public.

    I’d be happy to work with any US destinations and providers of heritage interpretive services to pilot Q-Point in the States. You are though looking at significant costs (say $5000 – $20,000) as a ball park figure to set up a complete system with training etc.

    Hope this helps. Have a good (our Queen’s Diamon Jubillee) weekend.


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