QR code: The global making of an infrastructural gateway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
MetadataVis full innførsel
OriginalversjonGlobal Media and China. 2023. 10.1177/20594364231183618
This article traces the history of machine-readable data encoding standards and argues that the QR code has become an infrastructural gateway. Through the analysis of patents, corporate documents and advertising, ethnographic observations, and interviews with professionals, I describe the global making of the QR code and argue that the convergence of data encoding standards, mobile computing, machine vision algorithms, and platform ecosystems has led to the emergence of a new component of computational infrastructures which functions as a gateway between different actors, systems, and practices. The central section of the article covers seven decades of machine-readable data encoding history across different national and regional contexts: from the invention and popularization of the barcode in the United States, through the QR code’s invention in Japan and its success in East Asia, to its platformization in China. By revisiting this history through concepts drawn from the field of infrastructure studies, I argue that QR codes have become infrastructural gateways and conclude that this concept is useful not only to understand the current role of QR codes but also to identify and follow the emergence and change of other gateways in infrastructures to come.