I didn’t expect to find a QR Code camping in the mountains of Vermont. In fact, stranded without cell service for several days, I had almost forgotten my phone was anything more than a weird shaped flashlight.
When I finally ventured into town to take my friend Jackie on a tour of the Stowe Bike Path, I was greeted by an odd plastic QR square nestled between grass and trees at the foot of the Green Mountains. The juxtaposition was unsettling.
I was prepared to hate that square. I had written it off as an advertisement of some sort, another way big box stores and global corporations were sticking their noses where they didn’t belong. It looked so unnatural, so fake. Like a nose job on a 4 year old. But curiosity got the better of me. What on EARTH could someone put here? I found my phone scanning the QR code almost in spite of myself. What opened up not only evaporated my ill will, but left me with a tough nugget to mentally chew on.
It turned out to be a collection of memories and pictures from people who had stood in that exact same spot. Virtual memory, if you will, set up by the artist Hector Leiva. But the interesting bit was you could only share or access those memories if you were near the QR code, and the webpage timed out 5 or 10 minutes after you scanned it.
It was a living time capsule, and it blew me away.
Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to stay on top of facebook, twitter, email, linkedin, reddit, blogs, news, and contacts that I really do wish my phone was nothing more than an odd shaped flashlight. After a while, these communities start to seem like they are populated with avatars rather than corporeal beings, and I forget what all of those platforms were designed to do in the first place: connect me with other people. People I know, people I love, and people with whom I’ve shared the same spot nestled in the mountains.
Building networks are important. Thanks to social media, we don’t have to limit ourselves to the people born in the same town, or living at the same time. We have the potential to access to a virtually limitless human community. And our own experience can only be enhanced by that prospect.
As a new Ditto, I’m excited to have an opportunity build those communities. I look forward to helping people reach out and connect, whether they share the same grassy spot in the mountains or the same passion for a social issue.