April 3, 2011

QR code for academic posters

I really enjoy presenting posters at the AAPAs, but I really hate trying to read other people's posters. There is never enough room for people to maneuver, groups of people mill around and hang out with their friends, and there's always that one person who seems ignored and looks at you pleadingly to come visit his or her poster. Plus, the last time I was at the AAPA poster session, I was seven months pregnant and didn't want to be on my feet any more than I had to, much less squeeze through crowds of people.

In designing my poster today, I had an idea: put a QR code in the corner. They're kinda ugly, but it's a simple, elegant solution for those of us who just want to read a poster and perhaps talk to the author. It also allows interested people to get a copy of your presentation without wasting paper on a handout or having to jot down a URL. They can read your poster immediately and uninterruptedly - or in the comfort of their hotel room or in the bar with a beer. I suspect that many more people will take an interest in a poster with a QR code - even if it's just a few seconds to scan it in, it's a person who may not have otherwise stopped to read it or talk to you.

My code (which I got here, although there are plenty of free sites) points to a very simple website that I put up with the same information, plus a link to a PDF/handout version of the poster. So here's my code:
It links to a page that you can also get to here. I haven't finished formatting the poster yet, so there's no PDF file available. But I also had an ingenious idea for that: make the background out of the most famous of the unswept floor mosaics (even though I think it's technically Greek).

Finally, with inspiration from my friend Marty, I also got some business cards printed up and put a QR code on that too, with all of my contact information. Ta da:

The ironic thing, of course, is that I don't have a smartphone. If my colleagues start putting QR codes on their posters and digitizing their business cards, though, I'll seriously think about it. And if you haven't finished your AAPA 2011 poster yet - please consider putting a QR code in it somewhere. Together we can revolutionize social science poster sessions!

Update (4/3/11): So I'm definitely not the first to think of this, or even the first archaeologist, as I heard some people had them at this week's SAAs. You can also check out suggestions for QR code use on BetterPosters and on PosterSession.com. Both have been posted in the past week, so apparently QR codes on academic posters is now a full-fledged meme!

PS: I probably should have noted that if you want to see the poster in its full-color glory and see if the QR code works, stop by at AAPA Session 42, Bioarchaeology: Diet, Health and Activity, on Saturday 4/16. The poster will be up all day, but I'll be standing with it from about 10-11am and 2-3pm. I'll totally understand if you just buzz by to snap a picture of the code.

12 comments:

Keith said...

I noticed a few in the SAA poster sessions! I don't have a smartphone either, though.

Bone Girl said...

Oh, yay! I was hoping some other intrepid archaeologists had the same thought. Now I'm going to spend most of my time at the AAPA poster session wandering to see how many other people have QR codes. :)

Nivien said...

That is a really brilliant idea, Kristina. I hope it works! I will definitely try it. I am presenting a talk, I wish I could just put such a code on my forehead instead of speaking... ;)

Ana Nelson said...

You could also include a short URL for those who don't have smartphones, easy to copy down via pen and paper.

Bone Girl said...

@Ana - I did plan to include a URL on the poster, but I didn't think of making it short (e.g., using bit.ly). Thanks!

Kristi said...

I'd been thinking of doing this as well, but hadn't actually looked into doing it. Thanks for the post!

Zen said...

Clearly this idea is "in the air." I posted about it on the Better Posters blog only a few days ago:

http://betterposters.blogspot.com/2011/03/smart-posters.html

Bone Girl said...

Thanks for the link, Zen. I like your warning against posters becoming a random stamp collection. :) Apparently the idea is in the air... and apparently it's conference time for other disciplines as well.

EllenQ said...

Darn! I was hoping to be the only one at the AAPAs with a QR code on my poster. I got the idea from Dr. Zen.

Bone Girl said...

Ellen - Well, hopefully we'll be in good company. I do wonder (a la Dr. Zen) just how far people might take this. I mean, I can envision the AAPA abstract book full of QR codes... then no one would come to the poster sessions. Then again, it would save us the cost of printing giant color posters (not to mention the trouble of finding a poster tube and hauling them on airplanes). But then I wouldn't have a cool poster to hang in my office when I get a job. QR codes don't make very interesting wallpaper. :)

bonesdontlie said...

I think there are going to be a few of us at the AAPA with QR codes. I was planning on putting them into the poster so that people could get the full paper and also connect to my website. Glad to know that I won't be the only one testing out this new technology. I'd love to hear what other reactions people get to using QR codes on a poster!

Bone Girl said...

OK, EllenQ and BonesDontLie - What we need to do is a post-AAPAs QR poster blog carnival. Each of us can post on our respective blogs about our experiences with a QR-coded poster (e.g., number of hits to our paper/website, reactions from the audience). And then I'd be happy to collect the responses in a blog carnival.

But we'll need more than the three of us. Who wants to volunteer to accost people with QR coded posters at the meetings and get them to blog too? :)

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