Original Content

Are QR Codes Dead Yet?

The QR Code Is Alive (Meme)
It’s a meme!

Flipping through a recent issue of a tech-centric trade publication that shall not be named, I was startled to see that ads on the inside flap and the back cover both featured big QR codes. Why was I startled? Because techies, including many librarians, have been proclaiming the death of the QR code for years. Yet QR codes cling to life, insinuating themselves even into magazines on information technology. In short, QR codes are not dead. But they probably ought to be.

Not everywhere or all at once, no. I did once see this one librarian at this one conference poster session use his smartphone to scan a giant QR code. That was the only time in five years I have ever seen anyone take advantage of a QR code.

When reading a print magazine, I just want to roll with the print experience. I don’t want to grab my phone, type the 4-digit passcode, pull up the app, and hold the camera steady. I want to read.

I’d rather snap a photo of the page in question. That way, I can experience the ad holistically. I also can explore the website at leisure rather than being whisked to a non-mobile optimized web page where I must fill out 11 fields of an online registration form to which UX need not apply.

So . . . Should I Use A QR Code?


  1. Erica Lea

    This made me laugh, the flowchart is TOO much to handle. I agree with you on most accounts. Within the classroom, though, there is merit to using them as I’ve seem some greatly differentiated and engaging lessons where teachers have used them. Does it have to be QR codes? No, but it can be fun for kids sometimes. Not sticking up for QR codes, but had to throw in that disclaimer. 🙂

    1. Michael Rodriguez

      Erica, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! And yes, QR codes have their (limited) place. For example, their potential for inspiring flowcharts and memes is considerable. 😉

  2. Samuel Putnam (@samuel_putnam)

    My boss gave me something to proof the other day that had a QR code. We’ve laughed about it ever since.

  3. Marisa

    I also can see great uses of QR codes in education with young children. They may have a hard time typing in URLS and getting to content quickly. I have used them to link to audio for students and parents. But your examples are definitely relevant for 95% of the rest of the world.

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