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The Internet

Hyperlinks In The Meat World 100

Once&FutureRocketman writes "The New York Times has this article (no login required) about a technology that allows publishers of paper media to embed hyperlinks directly in the article in machine-readable format. The system is a little clumsy at this point, but the intent is clear: a seamless integration of the Internet and Real Life."
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Hyperlinks In The Meat World

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  • If something like that happened, I'd cancel my subscription. *Especially* if it was Wired. (Wait... I already did.)

    Something as brazen as what you suggest should loose them customers.

  • "...but the intent is clear: a seamless integration of the Internet and Real Life."

    I love how the internet is not 'real life'

  • It seems like this is:

    (a) archaic (I remember barcode programs from the days of Commodore & Vegetable Games)

    Huh? Sure barcodes have been around for a while. There`s a reason: they work. The latest barcode technology I've seen isn't really a barcode, but rather a 2D bitmap. (There`s one on my stick of deoderant.) That way you can increase the information density. (This bitmap is about .25 inches square.)

    Just because a technology has been around for a long time, doesn't automatically make it archaic, I submit:


    (b) prone to errors (even barcodes on TV guides are little more than a cute gimic) and

    This can be fixed by high-definition printing. It`s simply an engineering problem.

    (c) entirely the wrong way round.

    What would be better, then? What about thin plastic newspapers, using that fluid LCD technology that got posted a while back?

    Yeah, I'll don my crash helmet and aluminium foil jumpsuit, jump in my atomic powered hovercar and go out and pick one up.

    Yes having flexible color screens that can be folded (just imagine the paper airplanes!) and bound would be idea;; but this is 2000. They don't exist in any meaningful way yet (by "meaningful", I mean "commercial ready at a damn cheap price"). If you want to have offline links, you have to go with what's available today. Barcodes and webcams are it.

    Personally I like the barcode idea better than the webcam idea. By holding up a page infront of a cammera, there's no way to have multiple links on a page. Sure you could look for the hand, and then the finger, or have the user point with a flourescent orange pencil, but these solutiions either take too long or are awkward. (I have a hard enough time keeping track of my palm stylus, I don't want to have to search my apartment for another stylus whenever I want to read a magazine.)

    The problem with barcodes is you need extra hardware, but that`s pretty much inescapable. Now if this technology was implimented in say a PDA, then you'd have something.
  • Sony's Vaio line of laptops with the embedded cameras (such as my PCG C1 [zdnet.co.uk]) have a feature similar to this known as "Cybercode", which is a 2D bar code, which can be used for starting programs, opening documents, or even opening URLs as links to Web sites.

    You can print your own codes, and assign them to special functions on your laptop. Quite useful (but I never use it.)
    Paul Gillingwater

  • With Hemos posting to a link that doesn't need a login, he has effectively eliminated a cheap karma whoring opportunity. I am profoundly disturbed by this action and call on all my fellow netizens to boycott slashdot. Taking away karma whoring opportunities from us is akin to taking our lives.

    Shame on you, Hemos

  • If you haven't read the article all the way through, you probably missed this related piece [nytimes.com]. A quote:
    Digimarc's technology also uses images to store information but takes a different approach. Its digital watermarks are designed not to be perceptible to the human eye...

    Imagine, for example, a photograph on a magazine page. Before the magazine is printed, the watermark is applied to an electronic version of the photograph by using Digimarc's production software. When printed, the photograph may look no different at first glance, but in fact the pixels have been adjusted to contain tiny signals that can be picked up by a digital camera that includes Digimarc software. The technology adjusts the luminance of the pixels, which a trained eye might pick up as a slight variation in an image's color or shades of light and dark.

    In a matter of a couple of years, steganography has gone from a way of frustrating the police-state forces who want to ban cryptography, to a way of delivering information and hyper-references to a reader via a piece of paper.
    This post made from 100% post-consumer recycled magnetic
  • What goes around comes around. At least this time the implementation is a bit better. What am I talking about? Well...

    In the late 1980's, there was a device called the Cauzin Softstrip Reader. As told in MacWorld Macintosh Secrets:

    A softstrip was a one-inch-wide strip of printed computer dots, looking like the tire tracks from a [toy truck]. You'd buy a $250 Soft-Strip reader - something that looked like a footlong flourescent light bulb in a plastic hot dog bun - and place it carefully over the page where the strip was printed. Slowly, the Reader would turn the strip into about a 3k file on the Mac's disk. ... The SoftStrip was heralded as the distribution method of the future! ... MacUser began printing the Softstrips right in the magazine. Everyone waited. Publishers waited for people to begin buying the SoftStrip readers before publishing the Strips, and users waited for the Strips to be published before buying a Reader.

    Needless to say, the device was slow and doomed, and perished not long after. Of course, we're not trying to distribute files this time around...
  • Honest to gawd, my brother came up with this notion about three years back.

    He pictured a hand-held reader that would store the URLS for downloading into your PC. We both thought magazines would be the ones who put the codes in their ads. Neither of us thought of newspapers and article tie-ins.

    He wanted to patent and implement it all himself; knowing how tough the industry is on new gadgets and daunted by the task of getting the media to adopt the system, I suggested just writing up and patenting the idea and letting someone more connected with the industry do the dirty work. He took that the wrong way, got discouraged, and didn't follow up.

    Probably an obvious idea, but he could have gotten in a claim and made few thou . . .

  • That looks even stupider than the barcode thing.. it's just a variant of a regular pressure-sensative pen/pad input device, but you have to keep buying their special, one-use paper and (presumably) ink for the pen, not to mention the hassle of having to recharge your pen all the time..

    If you replaced their whole camera assembly with a pressure sensor for the nib to see when you're writing and an absolute position sensor in the pen you could just store pen movement and reproduce it as writing with software, rather than worrying about dots on paper and recognizing them in varying light conditions and such with a camera.. not to mention taking less power. You'd not have to write on their special paper either, which with 73 billion sheets would still run out fairly fast if it's meant for business use.

  • This is not a legitimate concern. You are an idiot. Even if it were possible to print up a custom barcode for each subscriber, what's to stop them from essentially doing that now? Every URL mentioned in the magazine could require you to enter your subscription number. Some people are so stupid...
  • Uh... I think a lot of people have had this idea. Nobody's done it because the technology didn't make it useful until just recently. What exactly would your brother have "gotten in a claim" for? The concept of a barcode? Or maybe URLs?
  • But I honestly did stop reading when they said "have to remember the top-level-domain" of the site. Well, 99.94% of the TLD's will be .com. Even if you remember the TLD, you probably won't get there, unless it's a .bob domain. I wanna be xrayspx.bob, that would be cool. Off-topic, Troll, I know, but I really did give up on that article RIGHT then.
  • Chalk up another one for "C'mon, gang -- let's put on a dot-com!" It's been said before, but I can't help but reiterate: why would anyone want to use this technology in the real world?

    The peer and editor-reviewed printed word doesn't have enough clarity and depth, so here's a list of links! That TV show doesn't have enough action, so here's a link to a Flash animation! And all you have to do is drag your magazine/newspaper/big-screen TV over to that Dell on your desk!

    Thanks, guys -- I really didn't have anything better to do with my serial or USB port. This kind of computing is invasive, not pervasive.

  • It's a fault of bad Email clients, not the users. Simply *previewing* the email in Outlook will launch the worm. This is a terrible design. The user should have to click on an icon to lauch any executeable, and when they do, a dialogue box should appear warning them that they might be launching a virus.
    When will M$ think about security before they release products ?
  • by MattXVI ( 82494 ) on Thursday May 04, 2000 @07:49PM (#1090996) Homepage
    Are you sure that just previewing it causes it to execute? I read the opposite on arstechnica [arstechnica.com] this evening. They usually have the deep scoop on things.

    "When I'm singing a ballad and a pair of underwear lands on my head, I hate that. It really kills the mood."

  • by G27 Radio ( 78394 ) on Thursday May 04, 2000 @11:54AM (#1090997)
    For anyone that's interested there's another article about this [wired.com] on Wired. I found it on kuro5hin [kuro5hin.org] 3 days ago. I just stopped by there the for first time a couple days ago--very cool site for tech news junkies.

    I rarely go to web sites I read about in print or see on TV because most of the time they don't point you directly to the content you want. I always pictured a cheap pen reader hooked to a USB port a good method of getting the URL from paper to the computer. If a web cam can do it that's great, but it will have to be fairly reliable. This technology will be great for business cards too. Especially if you can encode all the printed data on a business card into the barcode.

  • Paper hyperlinks are really unfair to the search engine companies, especially ones that use linking to calculate relevance. It's gonna be an expensive nightmare for Google to subscribe to all those newspapers, not to mention scanning and OCRing all of them. And it's gonna be a public relations nightmare when the little old ladies hear that "sombody's putting spiders on all the newspapers". The horror!
  • It seems like this is:

    (a) archaic (I remember barcode programs from the days of Commodore & Vegetable Games)

    (b) prone to errors (even barcodes on TV guides are little more than a cute gimic) and

    (c) entirely the wrong way round.

    What would be better, then? What about thin plastic newspapers, using that fluid LCD technology that got posted a while back?

    Instead of scanning in the URL, you simply press the newspaper in at that point, and it changes to show the contents of that site.

    I don't see the problem with that - it'd be cheaper than printing a whole load of newspapers, whilst still giving the "authentic" newspaper L&F. It would also allow newspapers to include breaking stories WITHOUT having to stop the presses.

  • Don't worry, I'm sure she doesn't think any less of you than she already did. Mostly 'cause it wouldn't be possible.
  • I don't see this as being that useful on a PC. But on a handheld PDA or cell phone it could be pretty useful. The article suggests this technology would mean you wouldn't have to rip out an article with a URL to access the URL, which is dead wrong. With the PC barcode you have to have the physical paper to hit the URL. but if I could quickly store the link on my PDA, or surf immediately on my cell phone & make a purchase - now that's cool.
  • Take a look at http://www.anoto.com/index_main.asp [anoto.com] and specifically http://www.anoto.com/sites/tech_pattern .asp [anoto.com].

    This company has come up with a wacky pen/printed-code scheme that allows for all sorts of paper-to-net interaction. From the latter page:

    On this paper is the "ANOTO pattern", consisting of very small dots in an imaginary grid. A minute section of the pattern will give you your exact location on the full pattern.

    If it works, it would be interesting to play with, to say the least, since (from that same page) "Total pattern size: 73 000 000 000 000 A4 pages"

  • Belo's 17 television stations are also considering a version of the technology that uses sounds instead of symbols. To open a Web page, a television program could emit an audible tone that would send a signal to a computer that was connected to the television via audio cables.

    Kinda left out the part where you decide whether or not you *want* to do this, didn't they? Or is this just a way to simultaneously generate page hits and track your TV viewing?

  • I liked how the article refered to "beeping" on a barcode hyper link. I started thinking about it.

    I can see other uses for this tech. You could embed these barcodes on canned food so if you needed to get the ingredients you could *beep* on the can... if you buy a car, beep on it for recall notices... while working on the car you could beep on parts to get repair instructions... if you need to buy a part, beep on it somewhere else and order it online... Need a light bulb? beep on the burnt out one...

    We could even tattoo the beep codes onto people for their personal websites so when you meet a new person you could just beep them. That alone would save a lot of trouble.

    --// Hartsock //
  • That'd be kind of dumb. Why not just go hit the newspaper's website?
    Besides, printed info is a Good Thing. Like when you just want to sprawl out on the floor and read the paper, or go to a coffeeshop and get caffienated, or when yer on the bus...

    It'd be pretty funny, tho, if someone managed to crack into the newspaper's printer's control machine and make all the links point to something... unexpected. [goatse.cx]

  • They're planning on giving away all of their barcode readers to millions of people. Software for the machine is small and free as well.

    Not only will DigitalConvergence's reader read 'special' bar codes, it will read *any* bar code. Imagine linking your bag of chips to see if you instantly won something. This means that the *billions* of products allready on the market with barcode technology are instantly linked to the web. All you need is the database and the method to transfer it to your webbrowser (which, btw, is how the software works. It does some quick two-way comm for the url, and then shoots a location to the browser. Not any worse of a piece of software than WinAmp, RealAudio, etc).

    Same thing with the audio technology. All is free with wireless products planned as well (TV in one room, Computer in another).

    The possibilities are endless. I don't mean to sound preachy, but I've actually seen it work.
  • I used to work for DigitalConvergence.com... I was the one who wrote the piece of software they are currently using (still pre-production) that translates the barcode id into a web address. As a matter of fact it is Apache with a mod_perl interface to a memory-resident database (loaded at boot time via MySQL).

    The interesting thing about all this including the system that we developed to change "sound tones" into urls is the slashdot effect produced on DCV's servers and on the end clients servers as well.

    Imagine watching a large sporting event and all of a sudden a "blip-blip" sounds on the tv, your computer is connected and listening and all of a sudden you and 1,000,000 other people are all instantly trying to connect to the same batch of servers (or many batches of servers!) all over the world. That's a mess and was one of the things I was dealing with before I left.

    Even with the transactions down to 150bytes both ways that's a LOT of traffic, not to mention the traffic on the end-client's site.

    It's an interesting idea and I hope they pull it off. I'm glad I'm a stockholder. :)
  • if anyone has read Ted Nelson's work ("Opening Hypertext"), this looks like a step closer to his inevitable universe of hypertext. although he talks mainly about electronic texts, this integration with traditional media is one of his predictions. could this be the new genre of literature he is talking about? no, i don't think so, but it's getting closer.

    this technology allows traditional media (okay, forget about the imperfectness of the system for a moment) to become part of the docuverse. this allows for Nelson's concept of "transclusion" to happen. Basically, transclusion is a way for the integrity of original materials to be maintained. for instance, quotes can often be taken out of context in a journalistic article. transclusion would allow the quote to be linked to the full text. okay, that may not sound so amazing, but for an information junkie like me, it's useful.

    there's another important aspect of transclusion Nelson talks about that some other posters touched on - automated royalty payments. if you follow a link, a centralized system can track you and automatically charge you (or the author of the article) for use of their original material.

    transclusion [sgi.com]
    ted nelson [keio.ac.jp]

  • Don't guess at the price. ;) Our scanners retail for $99. A bit steep still, but it'll come down. Matthew Connor

  • [NT]

    .- CitizenC (User Info [slashdot.org])
  • I wonder |fnord| how long it will |fnord| take before subliminal messages |fnord| are encoded into these barcode |fnord| smudges...

  • by mOdQuArK! ( 87332 ) on Thursday May 04, 2000 @02:15PM (#1091012)
    Hey, this would fit perfectly if you integrated a bar code scanner into a wireless PalmPilot - a quick scan of the newspaper (or whatever), and then the mini-web page pops up on your PalmPilot for further mastication.
  • Seems to me that your uses (and the ones in the article, and the ones others have posted) are innovative and exciting applications... of the Web. I don't understand how they're enhanced by the use of a code that allows the computer to read the location itself. Perhaps I'm too hardcore to understand the average user, but is it really that painful to type in a URL?

    I suppose one advantage of non-human-readable links is that it might reduce the value of domain-name squatting. . .

    - Michael Cohn
  • How dare he imply that the internet isn't real life, let alone say that it's not! *huff*


  • I think a better use for barcodes would be for those cellphones on steroids.

    Wave your phone over the 800 number in the paper and you dial them.

    Wave your phone over my business card to call me.

    Wave your business card at my Palm Pilot and you are in my database...
  • I remember back in the early 80s this one outfit had this barcode reader and "magazine" for the Atari 800 series of computers. You got your magazine, then swiped the barcode reader across everything, then you got to use the wonderful (ha!) software they wrote.

    What you're describing sounds like the Cauzin Softstrip reader, except that the Softstrip was for the Apple II, Mac, and x86 DOS boxen. It was a gadget about the size of a three-hole punch; you'd line it up over a 2-D barcode (printed in a magazine or printed (at lower resolution) on your dot-matrix printer) and it'd save the contents into a file. I think I might have some examples buried in my Nibble collection...they didn't run with it for very long. (I never had a reader; they were kinda spendy at the time, and Nibble had pretty good tools available for checking your keyed-in programs for errors.)

  • No, the preview pane is not enough. We have been slightly affected by the "LoveBug" at my workplace (4 users double-clicked on it before we reacted). The cleanup is pretty striaghtforward tough, except for the fact that all .jpg files where replaced by .jpg.vbs clones of the virus... No prob, resore from backup.

    The mail message is just text. The virus is the attached .vbs file. It does however create an html page in WINDIR which upon opening asks if you don't want to authorize ActiveX. If you do reply yes, it runs the virus' code.

    There are two things I haven't been able to figure out about this virus:

    1. What does WIN-BUGSFIX.exe do (it tries to download it from an URL by defining it as the IE start page). Has anyone had the chance to disassemble/analyze it yet? The server was dead already when I tried to wget it.

    2. Obviously, by double-clicking on the attachement, you execute the code locally with full access to the computer trough WHS. I wonder if it were possible to embed a similar code directly into (MS)HTML, aren't there access restrictions?. That would be one badass motherfucker of a virus/worm.

    Sorry for being Offtopic.
  • I think the obvious solution is to forget about paper newspapers, and perfect light, long-battery-life portable computers.

    If you had an 8.5"x11" computer that weighed only a few ounces, would survive a 4-foot drop 100% of the time, last 16 hours on a charge, and was all screen, you wouldn't care about paper, and this would all be moot.

    Just push the "download New York Times" control every morning, and pay your credit card bill every month.

  • Funny...though i prefer Morrisseys name for him... `Ponce`.

    The best description of Ponce has got to be in some mag i read about 10 years ago where his entry in an encyclopaedia of `musicians` was just :

    "possibly a reincarnation of one of Jimi Hendrix`s pubic hairs"

  • >If I want to have hyperlinks in my newspaper why can't they just put www.newspaper.com/weather instead of some stupid bar code? And how do you plan on having a scanner read plain text that could be 100 chars long? >Sure it is a little more trouble, but not too much more trouble than firing up my pc just to check on some link in the paper. Besides it would save me the money for one of them barcode scanners. Firing up your PC? You turn it off??

  • Pah

    Who needs real life when you've got "Half Life"
  • Forgive me for asking this question, as I have been up all night working on a term paper, but ...

    What the hell does this have to do with meat?

    Maybe I'm just tired and confused, and I can't figure it out. I just can't see the connection between this story and butchered animals. Systematically butchered and processed animals, for that matter. If somebody could please help me out here, it would be greatly appreciated.

  • It's been promised for long enough, and with wireless links should be able to do this seamlessly. Or will we never see this technology?
  • Cross (makers of pens with three-or-more-digit price tags) makes writing pads that are a step towards smart paper; look here [cross.com]. The technology they use is a few years old, licensed from IBM. I believe they're also priced sub-$200.
  • until the porn sites start using this!

    "uh, yeah... i'd like to... integreate myself..."


  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, 2000 @10:48AM (#1091026)
    May 4th, 2001-For all of you who bought today's copy of the NYT, do not read page 25! A malicious "I Love you" commercial has integrated a trojan-like barcode URL which, as soon as your wearable computer scans and follows it (which most such devices running under Windows CE nowadays automatically do), will destroy all your files and send the people in your address-book a love letter asking them to themselves purchase a copy the NYT and read page 25!

    Details at eleven...

  • They describe it as a barcode type of data. Barcodes are VERY cool, can be printed out on any printer (or even written, if you know the characters). There are wands available that are passthroughs for your keyboard. With a properly written application (and some creative codes) you can do some real nifty things....
  • I wonder if they'll use the barcodes to track readers who view certain ads, articles, etc. Maybe they just licensed the old PIII serial # technology after Intel "abandoned" it and decided to make a newspaper form...hehe. At any rate, I doubt it'll be successful. Who (excluding us, of course ;) would want to scan a barcode every time they wanted to visit a webpage related to the article?
  • by MrP- ( 45616 ) <jessica@@@supjessica...com> on Thursday May 04, 2000 @10:46AM (#1091029)

    http://www.milk.com/barcode/ [milk.com]

    generates barcodes

    $mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;
  • by cronio ( 13526 ) on Thursday May 04, 2000 @10:49AM (#1091030) Homepage
    ...now [dictionary.com] we [dictionary.com] are [dictionary.com] going [dictionary.com] to [dictionary.com] see [dictionary.com] newspapers [dictionary.com] that [dictionary.com] look [dictionary.com] like [dictionary.com] this. [dictionary.com]

    One Microsoft Way
  • So, why have newspapers anymore? At the most, all we need is one sheet of paper w/ the links and a scanner. No problem. Have newspapers lost their relevance or do they still have a niche in society?
  • Vannevar Bush's device he described in his article "As We May Think" from 1945.

    Read about it here [theatlantic.com]

  • We're doing something similar, but better. :) http://www.planetportal.com Instead of just the code on paper we're using small "cards" to do the job. This way vendors can market directly with these. They can be mailed out, be on the back of movie tickets, or printed in magazines or newspapers. They are read by small readers that will be very cheap or free. Someone like Gap could do a 20% off sale online and just include cards in a magazine. Or you slide your movie ticket through and get a discount on another showing sometime. A more interesting idea is to use the codes on business cards. This way your card can point to updated information about you that can be dumped directly in a contact manager, or send people to current specials or product information. Privacy concerns are definately being considered.
  • This sounds like the stupidest thing I can think of.

    Okay, so I have to have my webcam (windows only I am sure) hooked up then I have to hold the page up to the camera and hope that I have it focused properly and in the camera's view. Egads!

    I remember back in the early 80s this one outfit had this barcode reader and "magazine" for the Atari 800 series of computers. You got your magazine, then swiped the barcode reader across everything, then you got to use the wonderful (ha!) software they wrote. But there was no way to save the software you just spent 20 minutes barcoding, so if you ever wanted to use the program again, you had to go through the same process. The thing sold for like $150 back then. I think the whole thing folded after a few months.

    This thing sounds just as useful to me....

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sorry to be a stick in the mud, but if I am reading the PAPER, stressing paper, I am not going to have a computer available. I usually read it on the train, simply because I have no way to read slashdot/abcnews/etc on the train. So what then is the point of the barcodes? I don't think I am going to be SO INTERESTED in an article that I rush to my PC at work and fire up the bar code scanner to see what the amazing web enhanced version of the article is. Maybe this is just me, but does anyone else fail to see the point of this technology?
  • Maybe you'll scan the bar-codes with the scanner stylus of your Palm IXp, and scan the referenced stuff via GSM modem. If you think it's worthwhile, you'll bookmark it, otherwise you'll dump it.
    This post made from 100% post-consumer recycled magnetic
  • Okay, I agree it looks really cool and nifty, but what's the use. If I want to have hyperlinks in my newspaper why can't they just put www.newspaper.com/weather instead of some stupid bar code?
    Sure it is a little more trouble, but not too much more trouble than firing up my pc just to check on some link in the paper. Besides it would save me the money for one of them barcode scanners.
  • This is a concern, yes, but I doubt very, very much it's going to happen. Even if you discount people picking up media from machines or newsstands, it'd be waaaay too hard to make sure that paper/mag A got to person B ALL the time and EVERY time. Can you imagine the extra printing and shipping costs? Yowsa. And everytime the presses got jammed up, it'd throw the whole scheme off.

    I'd be more concerned with the software itself reporting on you. Say, you get the software that decodes the barcode and you have to register it using your name and/or other personal info. Then usage reporting would be pretty easy... But a workaround for that would be pretty quickly coming. Reverse engineering and a piece of free (speech) software would probably be available shortly thereafter. :)

  • That was my first thought, when I read that the posting's title was "Hyperlinks In The Meat World". But it brings up a good point. Many technologies, like VHS, DVD, and the WWW have all been assisted in achieving mass market penetration (ahem) by porn.

    It might not be such a bad idea for these companies to start putting barcodes in some other sorts of publications. Just as long as the scanners are capable of reading barcodes printed on flesh-toned backgrounds ;).
  • So, along with the URL you imbed in this barcode, you also imbed a unique ID.
    This would require custom printing work, perhaps laser printing, on every issue of the magazine (and making certain that all the pages with the same copy ID number come together during the printing and binding process). This is a lot more expensive than offset printing, and the publisher would have to find some way of getting that money back. After processing the thousands of dropped subscriptions from former readers who'd been billed extra after lending the issue to a friend or leaving it in the bathroom when company came over, they'd learn their lesson.
    This post made from 100% post-consumer recycled magnetic
  • I created my own Parking Gate card with barcode font, so I can park in any gated lot on campus. The folded up sheet of paper with barcodes on it opens the gates for me.

    And now for the on-topic part...
    I hope that they put a lot of thought into the standard. I'm sure that in the future, they would be read from a distance, or read with microscopic sensors (in our finger tips). It would be VERY cool to wave your fingers over a topic on a page and have your HUD instantly show you more information about that topic!

  • by GeekLife.com ( 84577 ) on Thursday May 04, 2000 @12:32PM (#1091042) Homepage
    Replace "partners" with "www" in the URL to get the special Login Required version:

    Like so. [nytimes.com]

  • > it really that painful to type in a URL?
    Sure. Who wants to be typing URLs while you're walking around doing other things?

    >I don't understand how they're enhanced by the use of a code that allows the computer to read the location itself.

    This will become useful when a Palm Pilot sized wireless web browser becomes widely available. Once this happens, every surface suddenly becomes it's own web page: just swipe the Palm XXV over the label & you can have access to as much information as the owner of the label feels the need to give you. You could access operation manuals of equipment, warning information for medicine, product info for consumer goods while shopping, detailed background on exhibits when in museums or whatever - anywhere in the physical world where you need to access information. Who wants to remember URLs all the time? Are you going to print them on the side of everything?

    Of course, until this little miracle-browser comes along, it's just a dumb gimmick.

  • I think it might fly, if done right. The bar code links can take you to updated versions of the story, an expanded version of the story, related information, or for those who don't believe anything that isn't on TV to a video version. Same goes for magazines.

    Whomever said that it really makes more sense for PDAs and PCS may be right, given that those are the sort of devices that one might have at hand while reading the paper.

    The ability to handle breaking news in this fashion would let the papers answer broadcast medias' quick responses.

    Hmmm ... buyinh online from a printed ad works, too, don't even have to tear the coupon out of the paper.

    then there's polls. Print something on the editor pages, and include links to a set of responses - similar to the dial-a-number polls done now.

    As for the privacy invasion : while papers can print individualized versions, it's tough enough that I don't see them so treating every or even many links in a paper. Remember the fact the each copy of the paper is a (hopefully) identical copy is what makes printing them fairly low cost. Offset presses are about as cheap material reproduction as you can get.

  • Each individual paper copy would have to be printed differently, so that the barcode could include the UID. It would be totally uneconomical, as to actually break even on the cost of filmwork, plates, setup cost, you have to make many thousands of copies of the exact same thing. To print the UID in later by sending the paper through a laser printer would be very difficult, as shuffling so many thousand copies, and keeping track of them so someone didn't get someone elses UID would be near to impossible. So, nice paranoia, but not practical in the least. (And don't even think of using one of those Xerox machines that prints and binds the books in one easy step, because that would never be economical.)
  • Let's not forget the first (as I'm aware) meatworld hyperlinks... Choose Your Own Adventure books! Hypertext is not a new thing, after all.
  • As some of you so rightly pointed out, it would be tough and expensive to do. However, it *is* still possible to do - and if a publisher did this one time a year for say, Time Magazine, or once every few years for something like Wired, the economics would be a lot easier to deal with.

    After reading everyone's comments to my post, I do agree with the fellow who suggested that it would most likely just be easier to make the user enter their identifying stuff themselves.

    The problem as I really see it is that this contributes to a loss of privacy a lot better and faster than even Doubleclick.net could hope for. What a field day this is going to become for Madison Avenue.

  • And especially don't look at the raw bitmap on page 27. Oh, it won't do anything to you PHYSICALLY, but it'll chew right through the software in your brain that makes you who you are. See, exposing your optic nerve (which is really just a sensitive extension of your brain) to raw information such as a black and white bitmap wouldn't normally affect a person, but with hackers it's different. Ever since we learned the binary number system, we have had "deep structures" in the brain that allow us to subconsciously interpret binary code, and even run it in our assembly language processor known as the brainstem.

    So THIS virus on page 27 works the opposite way - it is the most dangerous to us hackers. If anyone shoves a bitmap in your face, LOOK AWAY, lest you be reduced to a babbling idiot speaking in tongues in the hospital ward, and subsequently persuaded to join a bizarre religious cult run by a king of the communications industry. It could happen to you! Beware! Read this newspaper at your own peril, and watch the snakes come slithering out of Hell on a mission to coil their oily, scaley bodies around your midsection and drag you into the 10th circle of hell [theonion.com]. BEWARE!!!!!!!

  • This sounds a lot like the DataGlyph technology that Xerox PARC introduced a few years ago. What ever happend to that?
  • I agree. I think we should be able to download Natalie Portmans. It's the technology of tomorrow, today. =)

    Sorry, I had to.

    Dusty Hodges
  • Let me give you a little insight as to how the lithographic printing process works: a series of copper/aluminum plates are etched to varying degrees representing the amount ink they will hold. There are four plates per page: one for cyan, one for magenta, one for yellow, one for black. These plates then functions as big "stamps" that stamp a piece of paper with their respective color ink. To make magazines like wired, these plates stamp up and down several times a second on a moving piece of paper. You've all seen those classic shots of the newspaper press and the single, long strip of paper hauling ass through it. Same idea. Then it's chopped into pages and bound.

    The idea here is that it is functionally impossible to customize or personalize the barcodes. Each plate produces many thousands of copies per hour, and they are all for the most part exactly the same - they all come from the same generic stamp. It would be impossible to alter the plates in some way from issue to issue, especially when you are on a tight print schedule and must literally crank out several million issues in the span of a day or two. First, the plates cost a ton of money to make, and the average issue of Wired already has (number of pages x 4) of them - ~800? Second, it's totally impractical. It would cost tons of money and would take the magazine weeks to come out. Neither is acceptable.

  • "It's been promised for long enough, and with wireless links should be able to do this seamlessly. Or will we never see this technology?"

    Doesn't this actually smell a lot like VCR Plus? A lot of trouble with few benefits. I'd like to see a user who can't type in a URL, but can install a barcode reader and use it. "I really want to go to www.cisco.com to read more about this new switch, but I'm too fucking stupid to type a URL into Netscape."

    I think that we will see this sort of technology, but it won't be used in the ways described in the article. Hopefully, someone somewhere is working on a useful application.

    How about encrypted snail mail? Or business cards with public keys? Or as security devices for cheques or cash?

    Anyway, it won't be accepted by business until Microsoft embraces and extends it.

    Mike van Lammeren
  • I don't think this will work. A LONG time ago,
    Byte magazine used to print these special
    barcode-like patches on their pages. The idea
    was you could buy a special scanner that would
    let you scan them and out would pop the source
    code from the article or whatever. They only
    lasted a little while before quietly disappearing

    I think it would make much more sense to print
    the url itself and give away those pen-like
    scanners - that way people could still scan
    it while scanning normal text too. They
    could print it in an OCR font and it would
    benefit people who only had eyes to read it.

    Look at the market for this: I think the people
    who would READ a newspaper wouldn't be geeky
    enough to think of using a scanner, while the
    people who would know those little smudges were
    scannable would probably be reading their news
    online anyway.
  • It`s simply an engineering problem.

    You must be a mathematician. :)

  • ...the barcode reader would add the personalised code in software...
    But without individualization of each copy of the magazine and its bar codes, the publisher cannot tell which copy a person is scanning, and thus cannot tell how many people have read that specific copy. That would be essential for implementing an individual/business subscription rate differential.
    This post made from 100% post-consumer recycled magnetic
  • Ok. I totaly understand how this technically works....but WHY??

    For example, I'm on the bus on my way to work reading the paper. I read something interesting and I'd like to follow the link. Ok, now I pull out my PDA w/ web access and browse away.

    WHAT'S THE POINT??? I could have just as easily save $1 on the paper and used my PDA to get news on the web to begin with!

    Next point: How many ppl out there have PDA, Cell Fone, etc. w/ wireless web access? Enough to legitimize printing annoying little barcodes that the rest of the world has to read around?

    More useless technology from people who want to be 'dot com'd'.
  • Newspapers/Magazines delivered by subscription have a unique subscriber's code on the front page; the next step-- scan that code before you scan the UPC next to the article, this way they will know who you are.

    Same for hyperlinks embedded in TV signals as sounds; your cable set-top box can add a unique code to the signals. You can be directly presented with a "Click here to buy this product and bill it directly to your cable bill/credit card" page...


  • The article talkes about tiny "smudegs" of mineature UPC that are no larger than a U.S. penny. I'm wondering what's going to happen when the printing press smears that. I don't know about your local newspaper, but mine often has pages that are diffcult to read because if ink smears/runs/blots/etc. I would think that you'd need a very percise printing process to make this work reliably.
  • It was mentioned that one of the papers was interested in using bar codes of URLs as part of classified ads. Honest people would use it to include extra information about the item being sold. Dishonest people (and they do exists) would use the URLs to point to pages filled with p0rn banner ads, paid for by the click-through. Happens all the time with online classified, why not this.
  • This is a pretty cool idea. Mail order catalogs could have bar codes for each item that would wisk you away to the online store to let you know if an item is in stock. Text books could put these bar codes in the bibliography when information was pulled from a web resource. Airline tickets could have a link to bring you to a page with information on that flight's schedule. There are a lot of benefits to this kind of technology. The question is will the companies employing this technology actually use it in a manner that isn't completely redundant and/or useless?
  • This is, I think, best for translating paper to electronic archives. Who really wants to carry around a translator (or, worse yet, install a device on one's PC) just so you can see some hyperlinks related to an article?

    It's a poor idea. People who want to see hyperlinks with their articles will use the electronic version; the paper version has no need for hyperlinks since it's intended to be used without a computer.

  • My dog likes newspapers, and not just to poop on. I think it's the general noise they make when she walks on them and drags them around the house. Plus they tear much easier than say, magazines. So I don't see newspapers dieing off anytime soon if the dog lobby has their way.
  • I can't imagine many people reading newspapers at their computers. However, tt would be nice to get a very small scanner that could store all the addresses you came accross during the day (especially if bar codes are incorporated into other media). Then just upload these (wirelessly) when you get time near a computer and take a look.
  • The "barcodes" in this case are not barcodes, per se, but a special 2-D pattern that has buit in error correction. Obviously, at a certain point it can't recover, but it isn't as sensitive to crisp printing as you would imagine.
  • Barcodes? Ha! I've got this neat little chip implanted in my hand - it tells me, via a color-coded display embedded in my palm, exactly how long I have to live!
    Hmm, it seems to be blinking red. That's not right! I have more time! No, not yet! Wait!!!!

  • Anyone remember Byte Magazine's "Cazuin Reader" circa 1982? It was a device you could swipe over specially printed barcodes on the pages of Byte - I think it lasted 6 months.

    That was the first time I saw someone try to integrate different media. It happened again with toys and TV shows (where are they now...) Remember Captain Power and his custom toys that interacted with the TV show? It was also tried with home bar-coders for your groceries (turns out folks don't really care to do their own clerking at home.)

    Last year it was "WaveTop" - get your TV schedules and game-demos from PBS TV signals in Win98SE (or Win95v.7 if you prefer.)

    Now we're hearing it again. I still don't buy it.

    I don't believe there are legions of folks with webcams just itching to install some custom software (which you just *know* will mess up your system *somehow*) for the privilage of holding up magazine pages to the camera. Or newspapar pages. Or catalogs. Besides most folks who have these cams are more interested in holding up decidely more, er, organic things to the cam then trying to get the right focus and lighting on some part of a printed page.

    Ain't gonna happen. Or at least - not enough will do so.

    Same holds true for folks willing to run an audio-cable from their TV to their PC. Some will, but will enough? No.

    Again true for some Palm-size and styled device I've got to dig around to find, scrub over some inconvenient part of the page, walk over and plug into some weird reader (oh great, another thing to plug into my PC and have a wire running across the desk...) in order to see a web page.

    Until it's some small cheap device (under US$5.00 per dohickey in bulk) the size, shape and weight of a credit-card calculator, battery life of months, that can be run over an article of interest, tossed in a pocket 'till later, then waved in front of a PC to automagically make the link it ain't gonna happen.

    Otherwise too many wires, too much software, too awkward, too embaressing, too little return to bother. URLs are a heck of a lot easier then these other gadgets.

    -- Michael

    Read the book, saw the movie, starred in the musical...
  • by Guppy ( 12314 ) on Thursday May 04, 2000 @12:55PM (#1091067)
    In other news today, "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince" announced his intention to change his name to "|| || | || || | || || ||", as part of a marketing deal with online CD retailers, which will allow readers to buy || || | || || | || || ||'s records simply by scanning in his name.

    Said one recording industry spokesman, "We look applaud Mr. || || | || || | || || ||'s move to make it easier for consumers to purchase his CDs". Sources claim that such industry pressure is behind the recent name changes of such young stars as Brittany Spears and Christina Aguilera to "|| | || || || || || | ||" and "|| || || | || | ||| | ||". Representatives for Ms. || | || || || || || | || denied the claims, while Ms. || || || | || | ||| | || was unavailable for comment.
  • I read the article, and I must say, the technological implications is very VERY cool. Unfortunately, it hinges on people wanting to go out and buy a $300 (I'm guessing at the price) reader device, instead of just typing out the URL when the paper is sitting right next to you! I don't know about you guys, but I really wish I had that kind of cash to throw around.

    Not to mention, I read most of my news online anyway.. *shrug*

    .- CitizenC (User Info [slashdot.org])
  • See RFC 2110 [imc.org]: MIME E-mail Encapsulation of Aggregate Documents, such as HTML (MHTML) for a description of Microsoft's Web Archive (*.mht) format. Note that Netscape and other programs support this already, they just do not support saving the MIME document as a single file on your system.

    The compiled help format is something different.

  • Reading the article, I a number of thoughts crossed my mind, most of them revolving around possible additional uses of the technology indicated:

    * Allergy information on food -- I have allergies to several foods, many of which are life threatening. However, many of them are quantity based -- I can eat a small amount without getting sick, etc. I'd like to see a small handreader that could read a barcode similar to the above, and would instantly display exactly HOW MUCH of each ingrediant there is.

    * Movies - Link me instantly to several online reviews, baby!

    * Games - One swipe of the barcode, and my PDA will tell me what the latest version is, patches that are available, all retrieved online as I stand waiting in line at Future Shop, purchase in hand.

    * Medical Information - RE: Allergies, (Above) I also wear a Medical Alert bracelet -- it lists all my allergies on it. What I would like to see is also have a little link that somebody could use to get emergency treatment information on the fly.

    Does anybody else have any ideas?

    .- CitizenC (User Info [slashdot.org])
  • Somebody has read Snow Crash a few too many times . . .

  • > It`s simply an engineering problem.

    must be a mathematician. :)

    Nope. Software Engineer. :)
  • think the obvious solution is to forget about paper newspapers, and perfect light, long-battery-life portable computers.

    Of course I assume ultra-cheapness would also have to be a consern, since:

    1. It would be a Good Thing(tm) If they become ubiquitous like normal paper.
    2. People like to have multiple documents openned and infront of them simultaneously. Simply looking at my desk here at work I have 4 documents opened (3 on my desk, one on my computer). I for one find it much easier to refer to a real world document when typing rather than having to constantly switch between windows. (You could aliviate this by having multiple monitors, but I digress.)

    Another requirement for these computers would have to be ease (and choice) of input. People like writting in the margins and underlining in books and newspapaers. You need to be able to do that, and then transmit that annotated version to someone.

    You need choice of inputs because:

    1. typing isn't always the best entry
    2. my handwritting is really a scrawl and is slow compared to my typing.
    3. voice recognition isn't a panacea. In fact I find it for most things the complely wrong interface. Additionally you have the "Are you talkin' to me?" problem.)

    Just push the "download New York Times" control every morning, and pay your credit card bill every month.

    In all honesty you shouldn't have to do that. The Times should be downloaded automagically and then combined with other news sources to create a composite document. When I read the news all I want is for it come from a trusted source (user definable.) I don't give a damn if it came from some schmuck at the NYT, or some nobody at the AP, or CNN. It's all the same news.

    Of course "personalized newspapers" will never happen because the media conglomerates would loose control. "My God! You mean anyone can just pick and choose the stories they want? You mean they want hyperlinks directly to the sources rather than to internal stub pages? What are they some sort of communists?"

    What I want to see from the media in the future is nonlinear storytelling. The web is diffrent medium than the paper world. I don't want to be led down a path. I don't want to have "turn pages" at websites (a sure sign of bad design). Give me as much information as possible and make each part not only related, but also capable of being read independently from the whole. That's what I want.
  • *chuckle* ... ha ha ... Well, to that I would argue, using the same reasoning, (assuming you accept that humans are made out of essentially the same stuff that animals are) that if God didn't want us to eat humans, he shouldn't have made us out of meat. I think I will go roast my neighbor over a nice bonfire.
  • just recently finished it :-) (only read it once) I just HAD to post that tho, because the post I replied to reminded me so much of the book.

  • That would almost be funny if I hadn't woken up to 900 of those fuckers..

    Question: How many times do you have to tell the lusers not to open .vbs attachments?

    Answer: None. It's futile.
  • eBay, here I come!

    Ahhh, yes, the Softstrip. MacUser's 1986 Eddy Award winner for Most Innovative Concept. No, seriously [zdnet.com] (check near the bottom of the page)

  • All this stuff requires software to decode the barcodes. Has anyone considered what could be done with this?

    Each hyperlink could very easily be traced back to a person. For example, the article mentions that Wired is thinking of using this system. Well, Wired wants (or wanted, I don't know for sure now because I dropped my subscription a long time ago) more money for a subscription for a business than from an individual because more people would be reading it.

    So, along with the URL you imbed in this barcode, you also imbed a unique ID. Who's gonna know, right? Well, the software is gonna be closed source, I am sure, so who would know. Anyway, the software sees this and says "UID 4738925867 wants to go to slashdot.org from piece of software 583735". Well, I give my copy of Wired to my dad to read, he wants to go to the same url.

    "UID 4738925867 wants to go to slashdot.org from piece of software 483902". A few days later I go to my mailbox and there is a bill in there from Wired magazine wanting me to now pay the business rate for a subscription.

    Maybe I am just being a bit paranoid here, but after seeing the doubleclick thing, the stupid looking webpage cursor that tracks you thing, the TiVo thing, etc., I see no other reason for these "Great Convienences" that are being promised to us other than for marketers and ad execs to get their mits on yet more information about us.

  • Rob and Pater, take note of this idea...

    Anyway, I submitted an "Ask slashdot" about the same concept being used as a replacement for PDF just yesterday. Markup language generally does a good job being rendered onscreen, and the print formatting is getting better. PDF is almost invariably unpleasant to read without being printed.

    One thing markup lacks over PDF is the ability to embed content -- if there was a way to do such a thing, PDF would be a thing of the past.

    Microsoft has already done this somewhat, in what they alternately call "Compiled HTML" when used in helpfiles, or a "Web Archive" when all the contents of a web page are saved in a single file. It appears to be nothing more than a gzip of all the files that compose the page, with some built in referential integrity.

    My question was whether any attempt to fully reverse engineer this or a completely different format to accomplish this had been made, so I guess this is the answer...

  • I don't know about you, but I usually pick up one or two newspapers in the morning so that I can figure out what I want to look in to later in the day. Paper serves the point of letting me browse through the news without having to stare at the damn monitor. In this case a link might help, but it is not highly likely that it would help me as I usually don't visit the site of whatever newspaper I have been reading. I usually visit more specialized news / discussion sites, like IntellectualCapital.com [intellectualcapital.com].

    Then again, being a Political Science / Economics major gives me a lot more reason to be doing this then the average Joe.

  • it would probably be a lot harder to hide my time slacking off visiting CNN, Washington Post, etc, if I'm holding up this big newspaper in front of my monitor. :(

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.