The Treehouse + The Cave

The Treehouse + The Cave: Radio Babylon <body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: '\x3d9561264\x26blogName\x3dThe+Treehouse+%2B+The+Cave\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLACK\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3d\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3d\x26vt\x3d455617431721372491', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Radio Babylon

Radio Babylon

When presented with an object like this--a home-brew portable device capable of scanning for shared iTunes libraries on open wireless networks, and then shuffling the available songs for its user--I have a hard time defining it solely as a gadget. It possesses the beautiful-yet-utilitarian aura of the handcrafted, like an Appalachian basket or hand-glazed pottery.

As the Make culture catches on, and the label Outsider Art shifts to include such creations, the larger category Art will have to shift as well. And while I'll admit that Andy McFarland's Radio Babylon (the device in question) does not meet my personal definitions of an art object, I can see that his practice mirrors that of the fine artist. He is driven to answer questions about the state of our society through the design and production of objects that speak directly to others. I believe that as information and ideas float faster and freely, the walls between disciplines such as engineering and art will fade. Hacking, designing, crafting, and art-making are already, in many cases, near-synonyms.

From the perspective of a consumer I might add, "If this dude can fit this functionality into his pocket, then Apple can fit it into an iPod. Where are the WiFi iPods, and where are all the shared "radio stations" being beamed from people's bags on the street and on the subway?"

Blogger Paige thought:

I want a thing on my iPod that will go off if I am near someone who has a simmilar playlist to me, or if someone is listening to the same song. Like a musical matchmaker.

I might use this post in a class presentaion I have to do on monday about the televisual, perception, and the technology-culture dialectic. As I was reading it, I kept being surprized that you kept referencing the same texts I was being lectured on today.! I will keep you posted Andy, thanks for inspiration.

February 2, 2006 at 3:17 AM - Comment Permalink  
Blogger Andy thought:


I think your matchmaker feature is a great idea--one totally in line with the "personal radio station" capability that so many have discussed. It's like Meetro plus Dodgeball plus

It's really amazing that it only took a miniature computer to get in a couple million pockets for so many distributed communications and communal media concepts to emerge. This is really a great time to be a culture-obsessed nerd.

Anyway, which texts have you been reading? Benjamin is the only real academic source I cited. Everything else is just Mac-zealot gossip...

Glad I'm still stimulating,


February 2, 2006 at 12:40 PM - Comment Permalink  

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