Thursday 6 September 2012

QR codes on Dorset gravestones

QR codes (Quick Response codes) on gravestones are not a new thing, but it's definitely one of those concepts that always seems to emerge in the United States to which we usually react with a face that says "seriously?!". A bit like that story a few months ago with an ashes urn you can buy in the States in the shape of Barack Obama's head, in which to place the recently cremated dearly departed.

However, it looks like QR codes are now making their way onto headstones here in the UK. The Guardian has a piece at about funeral directors Chester Pearce of Poole, Dorset, which is adding them to headstones to provide biographical information on the deceased, and steering people towards a site to add their own tributes etc.

I must admit that I'm a tad sceptical - not necessarily on the concept of interactivity with a gravestone, but just that I suspect that QR codes will likely be replaced by something else in a few years, the way that technology is moving these days, and that the sites that they steer you towards have no guarantee of perpetuity. But still, an interesting piece.

Oh but I did forget the good part - the codes will also cost you £300. I think this is the bit where you say "seriously?!" again! :)

(With thanks to Alison Spring) 


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  1. Chris, we have been surprised to see that a lot of people are attracted by the possibilities of using QR codes. There were news reports of a tech startup in Ireland doing this last year but google isn't finding it for me now.
    I did see a heritage trail project where the QR codes were made of ceramic - that has some attractions.
    When people ask us about it we tell them to take the diy approach -the qr code simply links to a webpage they can setup for themselves.
    In our work with local authorities we are suggesting they might think of a single QR code at the graveyard gateway.

  2. Hi John, the idea of interactivity is quite good, I just suspect that QR codes will be obsolete in a few years, as something else comes along. Hope I'm wrong though!

  3. Whether or not QR codes will be accessible in the future, I think the bigger issue is where the information they link to is being stored. The QR code on a gravestone will (presumably) last for a long time, but what happens if the funeral directors go out of business, or the web hosting company collapses? Even if you have all the information on your own website, will it still be accessible in 20, 50, 100 years time? Who will be maintaining the information?

  4. Thanks for the blog. I have a vested interest in the area of digital memorials as I founded the digital memorial

    plaque a couple of years ago and have come across all the arguments for and against.

    The blogs raises some interesting points in particular regarding changing technology ie will QR codes become

    obselete. Well maybe at some point, but it's a law of technology that it can't go backwards ie you can't

    uninvent something. QR codes have some way to go before they are universally accepted although the use

    age and popularity seems to be growing especially in NA and far east.

    However we are already working with advances such as clear codes embedded in clear film which as QR

    codes can be read by Smartphone technology. What will no change is the simple ability to link bricks and

    mortar to the internet.

    It's also true to say the demand amongst family and friends to memorialize a loved one with the massive libary

    of digital material is not going to stop. The growth of facebook and other social networking sites shows no

    sign of ending, it has become a and will remain a tools in life and death.

    Local authorities who ban QR codes and similar technologies are attemping to be King Canute. What I'd

    suggest from history and technology is not to ban but embrace, control and if necessary make money from.

    The digital memorial plaques are attached to a headstone or gravestone the plaque creates a legacy

    monument linking to memorial websites. Direct or from funeral homes or funeral directors they are an ideal

    condolence or sympathy gift.

    Thanks for the blog