Japan: Footy, Tag Clouds and 2D Barcodes

UFO CatcherOk, no posts since last year, better get back to it. I have a good excuse though - I've been gallivanting around Japan for the last 4 or so weeks. Mostly in the awesome Okinawa prefecture (as seen in the hit movie "The Karate Kid - Part II").

Okinawa is home to some pretty impressive stuff... Awamori, Goya, and all myriad of Spam-type ham-based products. Here's some other groovy stuff I found around:

Shinto, and the AFL

Shinto is the native religion of Japan. According to Wikipedia, "There is no consensus as to where Shinto first developed. Some of them claim that it has always existed in Japan, back into the mists of the Jomon age (10000 BC). Others maintain that it came about in the Yayoi period (300 BC) as a cultural product of immigrants from China and the Korean Peninsula".

During my travels I found irrefutable evidence that Shinto actually derived from the ancient Australian Football League (1990 AD) that evolved over tens of years from the mystical Victorian Football League (1896 AD).

Visual comparison of Shinto shrine gates, and AFL goal posts.

Irrefutable.

Web 2.0, and hippie music posters

60s music cloud-tag treeAfter all that ancient history I figured it was time to hunt down some state-of-the-art technology that Japan is famous for. I didn't have to look far. Wandering into a local bar I noticed a prototype Web 2.0 Tag Cloud hanging on the wall. Upon closer inspection I observed that the cutting-edge navigational tool was printed in 1982! Talk about ahead of the game!

60s music cloud-tag detailAlthough my Japanese language skills are quite rudimentary, I attempted to talk some shop to the Okinawan barkeep. I'm pretty sure he was trying to tell me that the next big thing in Interweb Technology will be those posters that are like, a picture of an actor, but made up of lots of tiny pictures from a movie that actor was in - but realised as an Ontological Web Enabling Device. You heard it here first.

Japan, and 2D barcodes

2D barcode on a flag ad in the streetThis is just straight-out nerdy goodness: 2D barcodes are EVERYWHERE in Japan. Really everywhere - plane tickets, magazines, billboards, bus seats, flags in the sky, - everywhere!

2D barcodes are like regular old barcodes, except they have an extra dimension - And can store heaps more information than its dimensionally-challenged cousin.

scanning the 2D barcode in the skyThe barcodes on tickets and stuff are used like 1D barcodes - to automate repetitive processes or what-not. So that's not very interesting.

However, the cool thing is that every phone in Japan has a camera in it. And every phone in Japan has barcode reading software in it! You just point your phone at the square-code and the software reads in the info.

The result of scanning - a url on your phoneIt's usually a URL to a companies website - which is not as useless as it sounds, as in Japan people are quite happy to do some web-surfing on their phone. And it's not just the big-guys that have them either - funky lil' shops whose sites you'd want to visit have them too.

Some of the square-codes contained other information too - like the shop address, or specials etc (Oh! I just noticed that customs had stuck one in my passport when I arrived in Japan too!). The possibilities are end-full! But damn cool.

Geez... I don't want to blow your mind too much, so I'd better let all that information sink in and continue the "Cool shit from Japan" posts in the not-to-distant future.

Ja mata ne!

A big 2d barcode