To the Editor:
What is this world coming to? The question is a timeworn one with yet another modern answer.
In the past, striking up a conversation with a person meant, first, noticing something about the other-an attractor, maybe a baseball cap. Using that piece of information, one might offer a remark, such as, “Tough season for the Red Sox, wasn’t it?” The answer might produce additional facts… and the conversation advances into places of residence, kids or grandchildren, jobs or retirement, etc., until names are exchanged and possibly other contact information, and the relationship grows.
In not too many more years, we will be saying, “In the old days, that’s how we got to know people, and made new friends.”
The communication networks, and their attending hardware, have created a social world that is splitting open in many directions. In only a few more years it will be smashed open like a pumpkin on Halloween. The private, personal spaces of the past-places of refuge, unseen and unknown-are rapidly disappearing and many of Earth’s human inhabitants do not seem to care.
In addition, written communications are eroding from their old form of thoughtfully crafted letters, to hastily written notes and the semi-mindless patter of text messages. That will change when “The Badge” enters center stage.
Supporting the future iteration of cultural demise will be the Quick Response Code, or QR code, a symbol of connectedness between a handheld device and some entity that would appreciate your attention.
For example, a small ad in a magazine or on a bulletin board might have in one of its corners a QR code. By simply taking a picture of it with your iPhone or Android, and if you have the appropriate app, you will be automatically connected to the website for the company, or other entity, that created the QR code. Now, imagine the future.
By creating your own personal website, filled with facts about you, updated regularly, and by creating a QR code as a guide to that website, anyone can know who you are wherever that code appears. Remember, people of the future have no fear of “going massively public.” The QR code will be embossed on your badge, or T-shirt, which you will wear whenever you are in public.
Anyone you meet can take a picture of the code and, within seconds, will know everything about you, and you can know everything about the other person, assuming s/he has a QR code, as well, and you have the appropriate app. No need for any conversation, or letters. No need for the social skills of the past, nor of those parts of the brain responsible for developing such skills.
Welcome to the future… a smashed culture in every way.