You May Be Dead, But Thanks To A QR Code Your Memory Can Last Forever

Over on ArtsHacker today, Ceci Dadisman wrote a post suggesting that the dreaded/derided QR code may be making a comeback thanks to improved functionality on Apple’s new iOS11.

I have been keeping an eye open for close to a year to see if QR codes might return given that they are used on and for E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G in China. With that sort of massive usage, it isn’t hard to foresee that companies will recognize the utility in transactions and encourage people to use them. When I say they are used for  everything in China, I mean beggars on the street have signs with QR codes on them so you can donate.  A village planted trees in the shape of a QR code that can be scanned from the air.

There are some other interesting uses like the shopping mall with a giant code on the side of the building so you can discover the hours as you drive by rather than pulling up and squinting at the sign on the door. QR codes also allow all those people waving signs on the side of the road/middle of the sidewalk get paid for catching your attention when you scan their sign to learn more.

The one use that really caught my eye, and you almost miss it in the article, is putting QR codes on tombstones so that people can learn more about the person.

But QR codes appear for dead people, too… Since people in China believe that QR codes are here to stay, even tombstones are engraved with QR codes that memorialize the life-story — through biographies, photographs, and videos — of the deceased. From the leadership of the China Funeral Association: “In modern times, people should commemorate their deceased loved ones in modern ways”.

While some obvious uses for QR codes in the arts would be to provide information about art works in museums and performers and their characters in performances, (especially interactive ones where a printed program might get in the way), I wonder what innovative uses for storytelling people might come up with.

One idea that just popped to mind is a quest that wasn’t dependent on the presence of physical objects. If you scan a treasure chest or information source without having first found and scanned a key/preceding information source, you won’t receive the treasure/solution. That way you can have multiple people play a game without having to make multiple versions of an item for people to claim.

Anything else pop to mind for people?

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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