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.