Legal hacking

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.

Others are attacking the problem head-on in a variety of creative ways.

Milestone: my wife and I went on our first date ten years ago this weekend. It’s easy to remember because we went to see a movie that Sunday. We paid at the front counter and headed for the theater which, to our surprise, was empty even though we were right on time. We hung out by the door and talked for a while. Five minutes passed with nobody else showing up. Ten. Twenty. Suddenly we realized that we’d forgotten about the time change and arrived an hour early.

The movie was Dazed and Confused.

More comment spam today, and more referer log entries. My comment spammers file has been updated and the spammer’s ip/url reported to feedster.

This particular spammer used a Google search carefully crafted to yield a bunch of MT weblogs. I went and re-ran the search and sure enough, most of the search results still had the same spam that I got. Grumble. Gotta get my act together and install one of those filter plugins. But I’m still suspicious of any software program that claims to be able to tell spam from non spam. Wouldn’t it be great if we could incorporate those robot-defying, obfuscated text images right into the weblog tool?

I WISH it was easier to listen to all of the music appearing in the Internet Archive collection feed. Enclosures might be part of the solution, but the files are also really big, typically hundreds of MB, and in an unusual format. Pondering…

We launched the MIT Sloan site yesterday at 2pm. You can take a look if you’d like, but you probably won’t be able to log in unless you happen to be a Sloan person.

So far, so good. Or at least, I haven’t gotten any emergency phone calls. Here are some stats from 18 hours post launch.

Number of logins: 291
Number of hits: ~5000 (includes graphics)
Number of documents uploaded: 27
Disk space consumed by documents: 100MB
Number of server errors thrown: 4
Number of bugs fixed: 1
Number of disk backups performed: 1
Number of database backups performed: 1

Great summary and commentary on recent discussion of the O’Reilly Fresh Air interview from Doc Searls.

I think I was trying to get at similar ideas when I posted my own 2 cents last week, but others have since taken a much broader and richer view.

As a funny side note, the top search word in my referer logs has been “O’Reilly” ever since I made that post. For a few days I had the top Google score for “Bill O’Reilly Fresh Air”. Now I’m #2. Not exactly how I wanted to get famous :-).