A recent Reason article explains a new iPhone app called Stickybits. This app allows users to scan the barcode of a product they purchased, and then view all the comments that others have made about it (and make their own comments). Users can also create and print new barcodes to identify items (places, people, restaurants) that don’t already have a barcode.
Author Greg Beato makes a few points about this app:
- “there’s this thing called the Web that provides similar functionality”
- It won’t just be used by activists and culture jammers, but also marketers and big companies.
I’m not too sure what to make of Stickybits. On one hand, as Beato alluded to, it seems to automate much of what’s already going on on the Web – on Yelp, product review forums, etc. But the benefits of this automation may be outweighed by the fact that you need a physical barcode to call up all the comments – making it less effective for people who want information but haven’t made it to the store yet. But Stickybits could easily allow users to look up items by name as well.
Will Stickybits become a valuable tool or a morass of rambling, poorly edited comments? It depends on how it’s used (human agency, you know). On my more cynical days, I wonder whether all these comment features springing up everywhere (think: the Facebook “like” button) discourage us from making our own independent decisions. But part of me also thinks that more information can never be harmful.
I guess it’s up to you to make up your own mind about Stickybits.