how’d i get so passionate about mobile tagging? (original title: so i guess i’m a bit of a tech geek)

mobiletagging.png It’s a mystery to me. But for some reason, I felt compelled to write a lengthy comment in response to this ZDNet article which seemed to indicate that mobile tagging was the most important thing Microsoft has ever done.

Here’s what I said:

The sentence “the most important technology Microsoft has developed so far” might better be phrased as “the most important technology that already exists and that Microsoft adapted their own proprietary technology to copy, as well as popularize in the West with their marketing machine.”

I know that’s not as catchy and news-breaking, but let’s go over the facts that put this “next major big thing” into perspective:

1) Mobile tagging codes have existed since 2003 and there are around 70 different standards that exist. Some of the more popular are QR-Code and DataMatrix. More info at

2) There are two flavors of mobile codes: direct ones that don’t have to route back through a server to access their information and indirect ones that do have to access a server to give the user the information connected with the mobile tag.

3) Microsoft’s standard is indirect. That means you have to go through the Microsoft server to get the information. It is possible that they are collecting consumer data and location of the person accessing the data. It is also possible that in the near future, to be cost-effective, they will charge people who use the mobile tags to convey information. Microsoft’s disclaimer about the possibility of a fee to create tags in the future that you have to agree to in order to create them makes this a strong possibility.

4) Anyone can create direct mobile tags that give people information (such as some text, a phone number, location information or a URL). These mobile tags are free, don’t go through a server, and convey the information directly to the user. Here’s an example of a site that you can create one with: and an application that can read various formats of mobile tagging code:

5) Microsoft’s proclaimed benefit of their proprietary tagging system is that they can fit more information in a smaller amount of space because of the use of color to convey additional information.

If this last item is the sole benefit to make people feel the need to have to access Microsoft servers to give and access information, it seems that we should also try to promote the other types of codes that are direct and forever free if we want a truly revolutionary concept.

Your argument as to the importance of tagging is solid. Microsoft’s role in this possibly world-changing technology is solely based on their ability to get people to drink the kool-aid through marketing and pretending that they invented a wheel that’s been around for a while.

Whoa. Did that all come out of me? I surprise myself sometimes.

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7 Responses to how’d i get so passionate about mobile tagging? (original title: so i guess i’m a bit of a tech geek)

  1. Adam Rice says:

    Well said. I think QR codes have been used specifically for mobile tagging (I think that’s a bad name for it, but whatever) in Japan for a lot longer, actually.

    I actually translated a release on yet-another mobile tagging technology that’s invisible–apparently it modulates the yellow channel in a way that cameras can notice but humans will not. This was done to get rid of the unsightly QR code–but then you need some other kind of code to let people know “hey, there’s a code here.”

  2. shannou says:

    Yea, I’m not sure about the date since I got the 2003 figure from Wikipedia.

    I’m interested in the kind of code you were working with, I’ve never heard of one that was invisible like that. I’d love to know more about how it works if you want to explain it sometime.

  3. Wes says:


    …just want I would expect of you

    …absolutely brilliant!

  4. Adam Rice says:

    I don’t know if the technology ever caught on, or what the name for it is, but here’s the press release that describes it.

    I do recall seeing a swirly logo that they came up with to indicate “invisible barcode here,” but that’s not much to go on.

  5. shannou says:

    Cool, Thanks, Adam! I’ll look forward to learning more about that.

  6. Michael says:

    You Go!

    I agree on all counts.

  7. Adam Rice says:

    Did some more digging. Apparently it’s called FP code. It’s also an indirect decoding method, although with sufficient data density, there’s no reason it would need to be.

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