Ponder this for awhile, and I’ll get back to you tomorrow.
[UPDATE] Did I say tomorrow? I meant… tomorrow after tomorrow.
As Ryan [MB] commented, those with a cellphone should take a look at Kaywa QR code reader – QR code is what you see above. There are in fact a number of different code formats, including ones that look like a beehive of hexagons or a series of circles. However, if you’ve ever looked at the labels or packaging for various foods and other sundries, you’ll most likely see a code much like above – a seemingly random collection of black and white pixels. Even the smallest of them can contain a lot more information than a best before date, including URLs. Some can even contain an image (there’s your Gibsonian cyberpunk moment of the day – escort ads that can “show” without getting into trouble. Or, fine. Kittens and puppies. The picture is of rainbows and ducklings.)
There are a handful of decoders for the iPhone, all of them capable of decoding more than just the QR code format, but they tend to be a little finicky. Currently, I’m getting the best results with BeeTagg.
It’s possible that we don’t need this, but at the same time, I can’t help but think the uses are vast… up to and including pictures of dolphins covered in glitter. And really, they won’t take hold until people start thinking up some of those uses and acting on them. Got any good ideas?