Object hyperlinking: Meta-objects meets metaphysics

Object hyperlinking is a neologism that usually refers to extending the Internet to objects and locations in the real world, by attaching object tags with URLs as meta-objects to tangible objects or locations which can then be read by a wireless mobile device and information about objects and locations retrieved and displayed.

Object hyperlinking will make it possible to link comprehensive and editable information to any object or location. The opportunities presented by this are vast, although what has emerged so far is a mixture of social and commercial applications.


“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” William Gibson

f-Commerce: The Rise of Social Commerce

It is widely contended that f-Commerce transactions will exceed Amazon’s annual sales over the next 5 years.

f-Commerce, also known as Facebook commerce and f-comm, refers to the buying and selling of goods through Facebook. f-Commerce is a subset of Social Commerce, the use of social network(s) in the context of e-commerce transactions. These transactions can be completed either on the  Facebook, or off-Facebook using their Open Graph Protocol1, which enables the integration of Facebook-enhanced features on external websites or ecommerce shops.

As an f-Commerce developer the first decision to be made is how to deliver products and content within the Facebook environment. f-Commerce pages can be presented using either iFrames or Facebook Apps, each offering advantages and disadvantages.

1 Open Graph apps enable the developer to deeply integrate into the core Facebook experience, including Timeline, News Feed, and Ticker. See http://developers.facebook.com/docs/opengraph/


QR codes, mobile tagging and hardlinking

QR code containing VCard contact information for Simon Hibbott

QR code containing VCard contact information for Simon HibbottThe QR code on the left contains my VCard contact information.

QR Codes are a type of matrix (or 2-dimensional optical) code consisting of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background.

QR or Quick Response codes have been around since 1994, having been originally developed as product tracking tools in the automotive industry.  I first came across them a variation of them a decade ago while I was working in the Pharmaceutical Industry, in the form of DataMatrix or Intelligent Product Codes.

There are currently around 70 types of code, mainly used in logistics. However, they have more recently entered the zeitgeist because they can be used by mobile applications, known as mobile tagging. Mobile tagging was developed in 2003 and has since been used in several fields of mobile marketing or advertising.

For mobile tagging the codes are restricted to around a dozen types, many proprietary. QR and Datamatrix codes provide a widely supported open source format and are the most widely used for optical reading using a mobile. QR reader software is freely available for most mobile platforms.

QR codes storing addresses and Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) are more frequently appearing in magazines, on signs, on buses, on business cards, or on almost any object about which users might need information. I’ve recently seen them on T-shirts and coffee mugs. Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application can scan the image of the QR code to display text, contact information, connect to a wireless network, or open a web page in the telephone’s browser. This act of linking from physical world objects is termed hardlinking or object hyperlinking, which sound delightfully like they come straight off the pages of a William Gibson novel.

I noticed one used as a Twitter avatar a few months ago – something I’ve now duplicated on a couple of business Twitter accounts, and was recently given a business card by a colleague containing his contact details in a QR code.

QR codes can be used for a variety of uses, broadly divided into commercial, public and private tagging. It is their use in mobile tagging across all of these application areas, and in particular commercial tagging, that most catches my imagination.

I’m currently completing a Mobile App project, and will use QR codes to provide a direct link to the Android Market and iTunes store – an example of the kind of enterprise solution which will enable codes to be monetised and customised for business and commercial use. With this in mind I’ve also been looking at the process of branding by adding a logo to QR codes, something which is considered vital by many for commercial tagging.

Social Marketing 101

Here’s an annotated list of the 10 recommended steps to starting a social marketing campaign that triggered this blog.

  1. Schedule some time each day to work on the social marketing campaign
  2. Sign up for the major social news sites: Digg.com, Propeller.com, Mixx.com. Don’t submit anything to these sites until you have filled out your profile completely and submitted news from elsewhere on the web to generate a real presence and avoid being labeled as a spammer.
  3. If you don’t have a blog, you must install one immediately. This is not an option. It is an absolute necessity on today’s web.
  4. Once you have your blog set up, join the following networks: MyBlogLog.com (install the widget on your WordPress blog), and BlogCatalog.com. (they also have a widget to install)
  5. Join groups, make friends, and interact with other bloggers on these networks. Especially the people who would be most likely to link to your blog and send you traffic who write about similar things or have an audience similar to yours who’d benefit by knowing you. You can even start your own group, promote it in the network, and send “shouts” to the group when you have announcements or need attention to a new post.
  6. Once you have established yourself on all the sites above, meaning you have a decent profile in each that shows you’ve been active and involved, move on and search for networks that are geared toward your particular market niche. There are a lot of new “vertical” social sites popping up that focus on much more narrow markets and their membership is far warmer to your kind of information than on the bigger, more general networks above. Add a new site to the mix as often as you can and repeat the steps for becoming established there as mentioned in Step 2 above.
  7. Join a group dedicated to social marketing to pick up tips from other social marketers and find new places you can sign up with to continue building your social authority. New sites pop up every single day. Follow places like Go2Web20.net to find new opportunities to connect with your market.
  8. Remote blog. Join blogger.com and put content there that is good, just not good enough to go on your main blog. This serves two purposes: 1) you get to use more of the great content you find as you travel through all the social news sites and 2) it gives you another place to link back to your main site and pass on traffic and link popularity over time.
  9. Track your progress diligently.
  10. Don’t freak out! You have other things to do and this needs to fit into, not dominate, your current business and marketing.
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