One day, perhaps, we'll have holograms that appear when we go to the pay our respects at the graves of departed loved ones. They'll show up like a message from Princess Leia, say hello, and disappear after comforting the visitors. Until then, we have a stopgap technology: QR codes.
Easily one of the most maligned inventions in recent years, you can still find the humble black-and-white squares everywhere. That includes cemeteries, as the Anchorage city council has voted to let families place the codes on the local columbarium wall.
For $150, families can see off their loved ones with an interactive obituary hosted online by Quiring Monuments, which explains the process in a promotional video called "Living Headstones® - QR Codes Turn Headstones into Interactive Memborials [sic]." Odd, sure, but it's not the only company that's had the idea: Forever Headstones similarly promises "a much richer experience in memorializing the departed" through the use of QR codes.
For a similar debate about using QR codes at Arlington National cemetery, the Washington Post compared the issue to the well documented "funeral selfie." The negative reactions to both are understandable; it's not Luddism to say new technology interrupts the long-standing funeral tradition. If funerals are meant to give some space for reflection, adding to the established traditions — however well intentioned — is almost bound to look gaudy.