Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Inside a dog, it's difficult to operate a mobile scanning device.
April 1, 2011 9:22 AM   Subscribe

Books2Barcodes is an ongoing effort to convert all the world's great books to QR codes (2D barcodes). Each work featured here is the entire text of a piece of classic literature translated into several thousand barcodes. With a mobile device equipped with a camera and a barcode-scanning app, you can experience the joy of a great book as read through 800-character fragments on your cellphone.
posted by Wolfdog (27 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
This solves i problems I didn't even know I had.
posted by gauche at 9:32 AM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna guess that with Faulkner one would end up using multiple QR codes per sentence.
posted by komara at 9:33 AM on April 1, 2011


Solves an imaginary number of problems? Sounds about right.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:39 AM on April 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Even Hemingway would deliver problematic sentences - like this one, from The Sun Also Rises, which comes in at 969 characters (according MS Word):
I wondered if there was anything else I might pray for, and I thought I would like to have some money, so I prayed that I would make a lot of money, and then I started to think how I would make it, and thinking of making money reminded me of the count, and I started wondering about where he was, and regretting I hadn’t seen him since that night in Montmartre, and about something funny Brett told me about him, and as all the time I was kneeling with my forehead on the wood in front of me, and was thinking of myself as praying, I was a little ashamed, and regretted that I was such a rotten Catholic, but realized there was nothing I could do about it, at least for a while, and maybe never, but that anyway it was a grand religion, and I only wished I felt religious and maybe I would the next time; and then I was out in the hot sun on the steps of the cathedral, and the forefingers and the thumb of my right hand were still damp, and I felt them dry in the sun.
[source]
posted by komara at 9:39 AM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I can access the web, I don't see how this is better than downloading a text file. So this would be for printing posters of books for off-line access then? I don't get the use case here, and the web site doesn't tell me.
posted by Triplanetary at 9:39 AM on April 1, 2011


I didn't tag as useful.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:40 AM on April 1, 2011 [13 favorites]


I'm gonna guess that with Faulkner one would end up using multiple QR codes per sentence.

Or per word.
posted by NoraReed at 9:44 AM on April 1, 2011


Someone or ones just got Fooled.
posted by DU at 9:44 AM on April 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is what I imagine it would be like if we came across an alien language. How would we even begin to decode it? Would we even recognize it as a language?
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 9:45 AM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


ultraviolet catastrophe: "This is what I imagine it would be like if we came across an alien language. How would we even begin to decode it? Would we even recognize it as a language"

!
AWESOME IDEA IM STEALIN' IT BYE
posted by charred husk at 9:49 AM on April 1, 2011


In the future we will all just read QR codes. Imagine the effienceny.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:50 AM on April 1, 2011


This is what I imagine it would be like if we came across an alien language.

Actually I think that's precisely why I found this nifty enough to be worth posting. Those codes look really alien to me, and I was also pondering on what it would be like to stumble on a page like that without any explanation - to wonder whether there was structure in them, and how you'd get it out, or if there was only randomness. I remember having the same feeling in the library at, I think it was Cornell, when I found myself in a section of calligraphic Arabic texts that were absolutely beautiful but so totally inaccessible to me that it was almost enraging to know there was content in all those ornate designs and I couldn't get to it!
posted by Wolfdog at 9:53 AM on April 1, 2011


This is what I imagine it would be like if we came across an alien language. How would we even begin to decode it? Would we even recognize it as a language?

Dude, did you never watch Star Trek: Enterprise? The language whiz communications officer could hear a single sentence of a previously unknown language and instantly extrapolate the entire grammar and vocabulary. Because that is how language works, you know. HAMBURGER
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:59 AM on April 1, 2011


So this would be for printing posters of books for off-line access then? I don't get the use case here, and the web site doesn't tell me.

I think you can imagine some uses. These can be password-protected.

If the text limit were not an issue, it would be a great way of downloading ebooks.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:03 AM on April 1, 2011


I misread "ongoing" as "annoying."
I like my way better.
posted by EmGeeJay at 10:06 AM on April 1, 2011


Dude, did you never watch Star Trek: Enterprise?

Nope :) Actually, I think it's more likely that an alien language would not even be able to be detected by humans. Like it would rely on manipulating some physical forces that we haven't even discovered yet.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 10:11 AM on April 1, 2011


The language whiz communications officer could hear a single sentence of a previously unknown language and instantly extrapolate the entire grammar and vocabulary

This is also how SG1 explained the inhabitants of other planets knowlege of english. Other humans throughout the galaxy could listen to O'neill jibber jabber for a few seconds and learn english. They would even know words they could not possibly have heard.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:14 AM on April 1, 2011


I just made it on my phone.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:52 AM on April 1, 2011


Oh, wait. This seems for real?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:55 AM on April 1, 2011


If only there was some way to harness this kind of enthusiasm and time and effort and energy and put it towards making the world a better place. Or doing something useful. Or something rewarding. Or something enriching. Anything.

Someone or ones just got Fooled.

Oh thank god.

That reminds me, today is The Entire Internet Is Useless Day.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:12 AM on April 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


NOW COMPUTERS CAN FINALLY READ!!!!
posted by blue_beetle at 11:26 AM on April 1, 2011


In Ghost In The Shell, much printed material is presented in this way. Instead of literal text, you read a line of printed dots (which look like QR codes). Your "cyberbrain" looks through your eyes and extracts the text (or, presumably, other material).
posted by grobstein at 11:41 AM on April 1, 2011


If only there was some way to harness this kind of enthusiasm and time and effort and energy and put it towards making the world a better place. Or doing something useful. Or something rewarding. Or something enriching. Anything.

Go for it.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 11:48 AM on April 1, 2011


Go for it.

Way ahead of you ;-)
posted by -harlequin- at 11:53 AM on April 1, 2011


I hate April 1st. I am WAY too naive.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 12:08 PM on April 1, 2011


Nah this is real, it's not a new idea and a number of places are experimenting with it or similar methods. We even covered it before on MeFi but years ago and I'm too lazy to find it.

One idea is you can print out the whole book on paper in less space than would be needed for text as a way to keep paper archives (since digital is so short lived). Maybe not classic books which don't need archiving, but perhaps that irreplaceable couple-page text document you don't trust entirely to digital backup. The codes can be made the size of a 8x11 sheet of paper, which gets better density, and then to decode just load into a scanner with the right software. If your really looking for lasting impression, have a 3D printer or laser scanner create an image of it in metal or stone. Though I think ultimately it's better to just use plain text in small font since it doesn't require any technology to decipher (other than a knowledge of English), or microfiche will last a few centuries.
posted by stbalbach at 12:39 PM on April 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought that was what microfilm has been doing for the last 50 years?
posted by gjc at 8:42 PM on April 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


« Older Sourcebits Launches The Hipster’s Companion, a Gui...  |  "It is my wish to come very cl... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments