Regarding bar codes in print media: the idea is that any given newspaper or magazine article or advertisement could be accompanied by a bar code, allowing someone with a suitable mobile phone to scan the bar code and immediately access a relevant web page. This concept, of establishing a link between physical world objects and the Internet, is referred to as "object hyperlinking": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Object_hyperlinking.
A "suitable mobile phone" is one having a camera, Internet connectivity, and an app (software) capable of scanning such bar codes.
There are a number of competing bar coding systems in this domain, including open standards like Quick Response QR Codes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code), Datamatrix (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datamatrix), and Semacodes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semacode).
ZXing (pronounced "zebra crossing") is an open-source, multi-format 1D/2D barcode image processing library currently having production-quality support for:
- UPC-A and UPC-E
- EAN-8 and EAN-13
- Code 39
- Code 128
- QR Code
- Data Matrix (‘alpha’ quality)
Where to get a ZXing-based bar code reader/scanner app for your mobile phone:
If you want to try creating a QR bar code, here’s a web-based QR Code generator which supports contact information, calendar events, URLs, and much more: