Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Barcode Beautification Makes Life Worth Living

Posted By on 06.22.11 at 04:55 PM

barcode.gif
The news cycle has been churning out so many reasons to be depressed lately, and I don't feel like shouldering all the sadness myself—so here, let's all be sad together. First, you go ahead and cry about Walmart v. Dukes. Then I'll cry about James Varone the $1 robbery-for-jail-health-care guy. Then you cry about income disparity and even more economic collapse. Then I'll cry about the growing Blackberry Neck epidemic and George Clooney's debilitating marriage allergy. Then you cry about how all of America's greatest restaurants are depriving us of calories and toys. Then I'll cry about Sarah Palin either stopping her bus tour or not stopping her bus tour, but fighting with Fox News either way, as if the world needed any more heartbreaking wars.

When we're finished crying about all these things, we can celebrate the single piece of uplifting news to come out this week, so far. It's about our barcodes. They're getting really good:

Beer, granola, juice and olives are sporting barcodes that integrate famous buildings, blades of wheat and bubbles into the ubiquitous black and white rectangle of lines and numbers. Consumer-goods companies hope these vanity barcodes will better connect with customers.

The trend is popular with smaller companies, and even one of the world's largest food companies, Nestle SA, is trying out vanity barcodes on its smaller brands.

The barcodes have to remain readable by scanners, but that's usually not difficult to achieve. Some beautiful barcode-loving companies like Duane Reade have even started putting two barcodes on select items—one barcode that's just a barcode, and another that's fancy and for show. Maybe soon they will start selling barcodes as stand-alone artworks. We'll have to wait and see if this trend really takes off, I guess (something to look forward to, etc.).

Oh no! It looks like even this good news is tainted by tragedy: The guy who invented barcodes, Alan L. Haberman, just died last week. So you go ahead and cry about Alan L. Haberman's death. Then I'll cry about how sad his family probably is, now that he's gone. Then we'll look at some barcodes decorated with little scorpions and worm-shaped letter P's and maybe laugh a little, to make some of the depression go away, if that's possible. It probably is—you just have to block out everything sad I just told you.

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