Living In the Moment: Zeitgeist Awareness In the Age of QR Codes and Social Media

August 31, 2011 by  Filed under: Marketing 

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live through the industrial revolution or the birth and then mainstreaming of rock ‘n roll music or during the Civil Rights Movement. To Gen Xers, Yers and whatever today’s twenty-somethings are called, these are Zeitgeist moments in contemporary history whose influences are so embedded in today’s (largely Western) culture that imagining life before these moments seems surreal to even try to contemplate. You could call it cultural pre-history, trying to imagine life before high-speed travel, the electric guitar and demographic diversity — to some a metaphysical task similarly akin to imagining what was there before the Big Bang, before the beginning of time, trying to wrap your head around the essence of the something in nothingness.

It’s exciting — and sometimes terrifying — to live in the midst of a major social or technological paradigm shift. Then again, it can also seem so progressive and subtle and culturally seamless that the shift isn’t apparent until most of us look back and wonder how something like the Internet and cellular phones just kind of took over our lives so fully, yet stealthily, without coming on stage after a drum roll, wearing bells and whistles to announce its newness and future ubiquity and necessity, but rather just one day being as much a part of everyday life as eating and working. You could say that many of us don’t realize that we are living in a “moment” until it has passed, lamented or celebrated later as “the end of an era.”

Well, I feel like we’ve been having one of those moments with technology for quite some time now. After the Internet and email and the dot.com boom and then the blogosphere and most recently online periodicals threatening the future life of even the most iconic of their print derivatives, we seem to have entered the definitive realm of online communications with the massive, impossible to understate influence of social media. Right now — and that, the nature of the present moment, is so key to this whole phenom — the crown belongs to Facebook, which took the idea behind the already popular MySpace and launched it to outer space. For, if MySpace was about cultivating “a room of one’s own” in the infinity of the virtual world, Facebook took people out of their rooms and into the infinity of the social networking world, whether it’s back to high school or college, off to work, an augment to after-work or looking-for work networking, or even dating and virtually — literally speaking — every other social realm in past, present and future (all simultaneously in real time) that the user could think of. Facebook took the idea of six degrees of separation and moved the decimal back a numeral, demonstrating that something as seemingly isolating as being alone in a room on a computer, or several individuals in a room being “virtually alone,” immersed in the goings-on of the digital screen in front of them, could deliver more human contact than walking into Times Square on a weekday rush-hour.

It’s exciting to live in the bubble of a Zeitgeist moment and to actually feel the awareness of that immersion, that containment in a temporal vessel of change, of social, cultural and currency evolution while, not after, it is happening.

But wait — that does sound exciting. But what, you may ask, do I refer to when I speak of currency evolution? I might have lost you on that one. It’s not the Facebook friend who’s always offering deals or letting you know when there is a sale at their business, although that’s certainly another advantage of social media. Rather, what Social Media (with a capital S and M, if you will) has achieved, much like other iconic revolutions in culture and society like the industrial revolution, rock ‘n’ roll music and the Civil Rights era, is the ability to build on itself in a way that opens entirely new dimensions of daily life that take on a life of their own. For example, the Civil Rights movement led to integration, both social and professional and everything in between, in the process of securing legal protection and civil rights for a demographic of Americans. Rock music created rock culture, a fashion, an attitude, a way of life that defined a generation and its subsequent offspring. With Social Media, one of the first of these new derivative dimensions is taking this media beyond just being social, even if this dimension could never have been borne of anything but Social Media itself.

I’m talking about a new feature bound to follow Facebook and blogs and online businesses into the cultural and social lexicon called Quick Response Codes. With Quick Response Codes, the virtual world has not only found a way to bring business, track customers and quantify results in a way that utilizes this new media in a whole new currency paradigm. One popular characterization of this incredible technology is that it has made the nothing short of metaphysical step of integrating the material world with the virtual one, and by this creating the potential to blur or delineate altogether any distinction between the two. And isn’t that what the manifest destiny motif of the Internet always has been, from the early days when people talked about something called “virtual reality”?

What are these Quick Response Codes, though? Quick Response — better known as QR — codes are Rorschach-looking black modules in a square white background used as marketing “barcodes” (or two dimensional codes) that may be displayed in public, high foot-traffic settings like malls and busy city streets that allow users to go directly to the codes’ corresponding websites by scanning these images with their smart phones. This is great for the website, blog or online business who, rather than relying on passerbys to write down or remember the web address or, even more archaic, the telephone number, in an ad, can simply plant QR codes in their desired locations and make their business exponentially more accessible to their market or audience than ever before. With QR code technology, users can simply scan and access sites immediately for special deals, expert information, order movie tickets or make dinner reservations with such easy access to any business’s, non-profit’s or municipality’s websites as swiping a credit card. And it’s free for both and businesses who own the codes and the users who scan them. Recently, Calvin Klein replaced one of the brand’s iconic racy jeans ads on an East Village billboard with an enormous QR code under the words “Get It Uncensored.” Viewers who scanned the code were allowed to view the 40-second commercial without Klein’s brand taking any heat for whatever nudity or sexual suggestiveness the ad may have featured because it was viewed by users voluntarily rather than being subjected on any eyes that just happened to be open in the Village that day, circumventing the inevitable backlash that remains part of the brand’s brand itself, as well an iconic marketing force, if a reliably controversial one.

While QR codes are much more commonplace, unsurprisingly, in Japan, where they were created, and are moving into the mainstream today in Western Europe, the technology is still very new in America and hasn’t yet to date acquired household familiarity. Well, that’s about to change. QR code apps already exist on some new cell phones and major cities like New York and San Francisco are using their cutting-edge reputations to bring QR codes to the forefront of marketing and sales. Per the success of QR code social infiltration in those cities, the rest of the country is sure to follow.

Joshua Tukel is a list-building and marketing expert, author and speaker with over 20 years of business and marketing experience. He is Managing Member of DMJ Marketing, LLC in Royal Oak, MI. Visit http://DMJ.me where you can find many other customer creation ideas and subscribe to his blog.

Article Source:
http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Joshua_Tukel

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