QR Codes and Digital Exclusivity? » Sociological Images


A QR, or Quick Response, code on a bulletin board of a college campus:

by Guest Bloggers Dave Paul Strohecker and David Banks, 19 hours ago at 10:43 am


Steve Grimes shared this image and some interesting thoughts about how Quick Response codes, or QR codes, can contribute to inequality. That is, QR codes such as these serve to make certain content and information “exclusive” to those who have smartphones. He states,

There is a general thinking that technology can create a level playing field (an example of this is can be seen with the popular feelings about the internet). However, technology also has a great ability to create and widen gaps of inequality.

In a practical sense the company may be looking for students who are tech savvy. Using the matrix barcode may serve that purpose. However, the ad also shows how technology can exclude individuals; primarily in this case, students without smart phones. Ironically it is especially the students who need work (“need a job”) who may not have the money to afford a smart phone to read the ad.

Grimes’ thoughts are judicious, and reveal the inherent structural difficulties in alleviating inequality.  QR codes are one form of “digital exclusivity,” the tendency of technology to re-entrench (mostly) class disparities in access to information. Though they may be able to access the information later when they have access to a computer, the person who has the smartphone is certainly living in a much more augmented world than the person without.

via QR Codes and Digital Exclusivity? » Sociological Images.

Yesterday in class I used QR codes to direct people to a link to a blog post I was discussing. Was I being “exclusive” of people who don’t have smart phones? Education is supposed to both help us learn new things and “level the playing field.” How should we both embrace technology and level the playing field in college classrooms?