It may have passed us by here at the GFG-Batesville Tower. We can wear thin. Exciting innovation, breathlessly announced in gushing PR-ese, sometimes gets the yeah-yeah.
We’re talking about the US trend for putting QR codes on headstones. Has it crossed the Atlantic yet? If not, why not? We concede that it may have.
It’s a terrifically good idea. Cheap, too, at around £35 a throw. You take a QR tag measuring roughly 1 inch x 2 inches. You stick it on a headstone or any other memorial — it’s not just for buried dead people. You point your smartphone at it and it takes you to a webpage containing the life story of the dead person plus photographs of said dead person plus links (optional) to social network sites and a really good online memorial site like MuchLoved.
At a stroke it solves the problem that has beset the memorialisation of everybody save the enduringly famous. Burial grounds the world over currently commemorate amnesia. They are full of people who, even those with the biggest tombs, mean nothing to anyone. Why? Because the inscriptions on their headstones/obelisks/mausolea are insufficiently informative to make them remotely interesting.
And yet there are loads of exceedingly interesting dead people out there, from age-old B-list celebs to civic worthies to extraordinary ordinary people. Add ’em up, that’s almost everyone dead and buried. 99.999%. Tell us more about them, what they were like, and suddenly a graveyard becomes a really good and satisfying read.
The appeal is obvious to the contemporary bereaved. But it’s greater than that. Many of our burial grounds stretch back over centuries. So here’s a job for local historians. Research the life stories of the occupants of your burial grounds, then slap a QR tag on their headstones. The general reader will bless you. Imagine parties of schoolchildren zooming around with their smartphones, history coming to life before their eyes…