AI QR Codes, Stonehenge & Embedded Symbolism
Hola fellow wayfinder!
Finally back home after 10 days in London. In the last weekly newsletter, we discussed lessons from the London Blockchain Conference. This week, we look at new embedded QR codes using AI-driven imagery, revelations from my visit to Stonehenge, and how it all relates to the way “the ancients” embedded symbolism into their own sites and structures.
In terms of your own work or business, “hiding things in plain sight” can be used to embed cultural meaning (think memes), while also speaking directly to those with “eyes to see.” It is a naturally-evolved form of storytelling, which traces back to oral traditions whereby knowledge was revealed in layers to the “initiated.” But you can see this play out in modern society as well.
Let's dive in.
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New AI-Generated QR Codes Hidden In Plain Sight, Stonehenge Insights & A Journey Through Multiple Realities & Symbolism
QR codes have become ubiquitous in our daily lives, from scanning barcodes at the supermarket to logging into events. However, recent advances in AI have allowed us to embed QR codes into images, which opens up new possibilities for businesses and marketers.
AI-generated QR codes using ControlNet are insane.
This is going to be increasingly common in ads in the near future.
These examples blew my mind (try scanning them):
1. Ancient Village
— Rowan Cheung (@rowancheung)
Jun 11, 2023
This concept is not new, as history is filled with examples of how “the ancients” embedded hidden meanings (in plain sight) into their art and architecture.
But what does this have to do with Stonehenge, multiple realities, and narrative psychology?
Stonehenge & the Power of Perception
A snap of Stonehenge from my work trip to London
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, England. It is believed to have been constructed between 3000 and 2000 BCE, and is one of the most famous landmarks in the world. Visiting Stonehenge, plus conversations with colleagues at the London Blockchain Conference (LBC), contributed to some of my shifts in perspective recently.
The stones themselves are considered to be "alive,” which makes you wonder, no? The myths and legends surrounding Stonehenge — including druids and King Arthur’s very own Merlin the Magician — continue to reveal more information about the site over time, especially as technology improves.
By shifting our perception of the world around us, we can gain a greater appreciation for the mysteries that exist — even for rocks like Stonehenge that seemingly sit out in the middle of nowhere.
As mentioned, my perspectives shifted after having related dialogues with colleagues at LBC in London. It reaffirmed for me that multiple realities truly do exist, but not always in the ways we might think. From a tangible perspective, the idea of the “multiverse” is being increasingly discussed by scientists (just have a look at these articles here and here). But the sort of reality I’m talking about is more from a perceptual level — what's true for one person may be completely different for another.
This is particularly evident in examples like the Iroquois nation (or Haudenosaunee Confederacy) in the US, which most people don’t even know exists, but overlaps “recognized” US states across North Eastern United States and Canada.
Then there are places like Taiwan. The international community recognizes its sovereignty, but to China, it is not separate at all. You could argue that Taiwan does exist as its own separate country, but to the Chinese, it does not. Same physical territory, two completely different perceptions of reality. Your ability to “see” can depend on what you choose to open up to or even believe. Both “seeing is believing” and “believing is seeing” hold true, paradoxically.
On a more basic level, you can see this when people experience the same country differently based on their socio-economic status. If you’re poor, a place like Venezuela may seem hard, unsafe, and limiting. If you’re “rich” or powerful, Venezuela may seem like the best place to siphon money or live like royalty. This is not unique to Venezuela.
But by recognizing these multiple realities, we can develop a greater sense of empathy and understanding toward others. It may even help you understand your own users or customers (if you build products or own a business).
A book discovered at Watkins in London
Narrative psychology suggests that our identity is based on the stories we tell ourselves. Our memories and experiences are filtered through our personal narrative, which then shapes our perception of ourselves and the world around us. However, what happens when our narrative no longer serves us? This is where shifting perspectives can help. By recognizing the stories we tell ourselves and how they shape our identity, we can begin to challenge those narratives and create new ones. This can help us break out of limiting beliefs and create a more fulfilling life. In many ways, it’s these stories that also influence culture.
Using Symbolism in Business
Someone figured out you could use Stable Diffusion (+ControlNet) to adapt QRs into images while still having them work reliably:
— Ben Ferns (@ben_ferns)
Jun 6, 2023
By incorporating the idea of hidden meanings into our businesses and work, we can communicate more effectively with our audience. Embedding QR codes into AI-generated imagery is just one example of how we can incorporate symbolism into our marketing efforts. However, this concept can be applied to other areas of business as well. By using symbolism, we can create a deeper connection with our customers and communicate ideas in a more impactful way.
Memes are the modern way to do this — as many of them are often only understood by people who get “the culture” or cultural references. But you can utilize this by co-creating symbolism with your own communities, as they end up becoming “insider secrets,” which are strategically used to reinforce a sense of belonging.
QR codes (using AI-generated imagery) hidden in plain sight are not just a technological advancement, but a reminder of the power of embedded symbolism. By exploring the mysteries of ancient landmarks like Stonehenge, recognizing multiple realities, and challenging our personal narratives, we can gain a new perspective on the world around us. By incorporating these concepts into our businesses and work, we can communicate more effectively and create a deeper connection with our customers.
How could you use this knowledge today?
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Until next week, remember: through patience & persistence, it will come.
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