By Mike Whittlesey

The dawn of a new year has brought with it some changes in the print edition of The Progress Review. Perhaps the most noticeable of these are the inclusion of square-shaped codes found adjacent to photos on the sports page.
Barcodes have been around for quite some time. Most familiar to the general public, the UPC (universal product code) has been commonly used in grocery stores and retail outlets since the early 1980s. As technology has evolved, the scanners used to read barcodes have become more sophisticated and commonplace in retail operations.
Recently, a new type of code, a square one with a distinctive set of three smaller squares anchored at the corners, has become more visible in our daily lives. The QR Code, as it is called, can be found attached to a wide range of products and promotional materials. The code originated in Japan in 1994, used by Toyota to track the progress of vehicles as they moved through the assembly line.
One of the distinguishing features of the QR Code is that it is two-dimensional; information can be encoded both horizontally and vertically within its pattern. That means it can store considerably more information than a standard UPC while maintaining fast readability. In addition to tracking products, documents and time, the QR Code has become extremely useful in the field of marketing. Now that smart phones have become widespread, free applications that utilize the cell phone’s camera to scan the QR Code can open the website pages to which they are linked.
That is precisely how the QR Codes that appear in print edition of The Progress Review are being used. In the past year alone, we have published 86 photo galleries consisting of more than 4,500 photos at www.theprogressreview.co. To make access to these galleries as easy as possible, we now publish a QR Code for each gallery referenced in print edition of The Progress Review. As an example, we invite you to use a cell phone with a QR Code reader app installed and scan the code that is printed below as part of this column (print edition only). It is linked to a special video we have posted online, one that can only be accessed by way of the QR Code.
Thirty five years ago, sitting in a journalism class, the concept of accessing information in this way had not yet been conceived. My, how times change.
Our goal is to keep changing with them to make the news and information published in your hometown newspaper relevant and convenient to access.