This story about music distribution over MIT’s cable system has been getting a lot of link traffic from weblogs I read.
Honestly I don’t understand what problem it solves. I watched a demonstration of the idea last Thursday in an MIT classroom. Having presented an MIT credential through his Web browser, the user queued up a CD and received the message “Your selection is now playing on Channel 64″. The problem was, we were nowhere near a television set.
Zittrain is quoted in the NYT article, describing the work as “almost an act of performance art”. I agree with the spirit of that comment. The project looks to me like a legal hack more than anything else.
A neat trick, perhaps, but it fails to address the root problem, which is a persistent, and I believe, wrong, conviction that art and commerce can only flourish under increasingly stringent control.