Don’t blame the news staff for this!
That’s what someone wrote on my Facebook wall after I posted the image on the left over the weekend.
“Hey, this is the Honolulu Advertiser, where I used to work,” wrote Christy Strobel. “Paper folded on 6/6/10. This looks like one of the Sunday auto supplements. Those didn’t go through the newsroom copy desk. Just sayin’.”
Don Lee then asked: “Wonder how many people called the paper to say they clicked and clicked and nothing happened?”
Discussion of this newspaper image segued into memories of the CueCat, the handheld scanner introduced a dozen years ago that you plugged into your computer and held while reading newspapers and magazines. You’d scan bar codes in the publications with your CueCat, then be sent to websites about the products you’re looking at. (“Who does their leisure reading sitting in front of a PC?” asked Walt Mossberg. “How many people have their PC next to the easy chair, or bed, or other typical reading sites?) Ian Donnis noted that it was “one of the most ridiculed products of the Internet era.”
HERE ARE SOME POSTS FROM MY FACEBOOK WALL:
Cue Cat was only slightly less preposterous than the idea of giving away the entire content of the newspaper online for free. If I recall, when I heard about each my reaction was “WTF?
I remember the “demonstration” at our office. The CueCat representative only had to scan the bar code about 30 times. Finally she gave up and said, “Uh, this will all work flawlessly once we start printing them in the paper.”
Carrie Hartman McDermott
Jeff, i remember we all shook our heads and asked “why do people need this??”
Randy Eli Grothe
As a device to save newspapers, it made a pretty good putter. At the DMN [Dallas Morning News], we had a photog who could take an aluminum shaft and the Cuecat and fashion a putter for presentation to retiring members of the department. Fore!
As the emergence of the QR code shows, the Cue Cat wasn’t complete idiocy, just introduced as a bridge between the wrong platforms. It was an expensive lesson, though.
* (10/12/2000) Walt Mossberg: CueCat fails to meet promise of being convenient, useful
* (9/6/2001) Belo dumps the CueCat after investing $37.5 million in it
* (4/10/2003) CueCat founder changes name to J. Hutton Pulitzer