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?"