ipod, I love you

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Friday, December 30, 2005
Every person with an iPod that I have talked to or read about organizes their music and their playlists differently. It makes sense - I think it is related to how you remember things, how you listen to music, where and why you use your iPod, etc.

I have a friend who is all over Smart Playlists and keywords - a few thumb moves and she can access songs that have been keyword-tailored to specific moods. It is genius! I have experimented with a few smart playlists, but I still favor "shuffle songs" and manual playlists. Is it laziness on my part? Maybe. But I think it is because I like making mixes - shuffle lets me hear things in orders I would NEVER hear them otherwise (for example, just now the Cure was followed by the divinely named Zoot Sims - And it WORKS! for me, anyway) You never know when something will just sound wonderful out of it's original context. Some songs suffer, of course, and are miserable next to the Ween Cheese song or whatever else may be lying in wait. That's what the skip button is for! I confess that I used to feel guilty using the skip button, like I would hurt the song's feelings. It would not be a lie to say anthropomorphism has been a problem in the past. But now I know that just because you skip it now doesn't mean you won't be hitting the repeat button on it like crazy later.

I know someone who puts all new songs through a special playlist so they are listened to at least once before they hit the general song population. This is another one of those ideas that is so great, but just not for me. One of my favorite things is to have a new song spring out at me in the middle of old favorites. Especially if it is good - I get the cliched chills up my spine and tingly scalp and have to paw around and get the iPod out of my pocket so I can see what this miraculous thing is. Of course if it is really terrible I have to do the same thing (minus the chills and tingles, plus irritation). I do try to stack the new song deck with things that I have downloaded from mp3 blogs or artists websites that at least seem like I will like them, but it's not foolproof by any means.

Rating systems are another place where people can get very specific with their iPod. My system, I acknowledge, is in need of some fine tuning. Currently, songs I like get an instant 3 star rating. Evil songs (a song can be evil for many reasons, such as switching between left and right ear really fast and making me dizzy while I am sitting down, or annoying Blues Traveler- style harmonica solos which drive me to immediate, creative violence) get a 1 star rating which will get them booted off the iPod the next time I hook it up to the computer. 2's are pretty nebulous at the moment, but I think it is morphing into my "you get one more chance" rating. My ratings system needs work - currently the 5 is reserved for actual transcendence, I guess. Nothing has a 5 star rating - I think I have been waiting for something to physically lift me three feet off the ground, which is just silly. 4 stars mean I love it, but I am beginning to recognize that some 4's are more equal than others and they may get bumped to 5.

Shuffle All, are you sure? YES! this is perhaps my second favorite thing about the iPod (the first being that it exists at all). I do listen to albums in the order that the artist put them in, but usually only when it's new to me and I don't know it very well, or when I have become thoroughly obsessed with it and can't listen to anything else. Leslie calls this "the bonding period" and it is very important. But then there comes a point when my shuffle finger is itching and I just have to hit that button. Shuffle within the album, and then... I let it loose on the rest of the iPod. I know that my way is too sloppy for some, but that's ok. I like to let stuff slosh around and bump up against things it might not touch in normal circumstances. In fact, that's what I like about the entire internet! The beauty of the iPod is it will let you do whatever you want.

Synching, or manual updates - the technical element: When I first got my iPod (a 3rd generation with 10 GB) the iPod would hold more than my old hard drive, so I had to use manual updating. Now my computer will hold more than the iPod, so manual updating is still necessary. I like that there is different music in my iTunes library and on my iPod, but that may just be me being delusional and trying to shoehorn my preferences into my circumstances. I'm not so far gone that I really dig the drastically shortened battery life (hey - it's 3 years old!), so maybe there's hope for me yet. I see that there's a website that will sell you batteries to replace it yourself, so I might try that in the new year.

It all comes down to this - I love my iPod. I love that the same little machine can bring as much joy to people who have a laissez-faire approach as to those who attack iTunes with military precision, and all of us in-between.
5 comments on "ipod, I love you"
  1. As the military girl you refer to in your post, I'd just like to say how these differences are right in line with the different ways we approach creative projects as well! I have to sit and think whereas you just jump right in. We both come to great results so obviously both methods are excellent! The paint chip wallet was another example where yours was all loosey-goosey and awesome and mine was all tight and planned and also awesome!
    Even more interesting is how some of these traits do NOT carry over into other parts of our lives - while you are trying to be more of a "yes, I'll try that" girl, I'm trying to be more disciplined and organized. Fascinating, we humans.
    New smart playlist I love: Track 1 of every album in my library!

  2. Hee hee! You know what's funny? you were definitely the Playlist Person of my acquaintance, but I never thought you were military about it! I save that designation for the people who do things I just can't comprehend, like rating by beats per second and stuff like that. All of your smart playlists have sounded like good ideas to me! (I will try the track 1, or maybe track 7, which usually seems to be a good one in my random "hey, which number is that song" tests). In my mind we are but a few mm's apart on the "everyone in between" spectrum.

    I am boggled that there is any realm I am considered jump right in person. Do you know how long it took me to even get started with any sort of paper crafts? FOREVER. I was so intimidated by everything. But once I got there, I kind of figured what the hell and it's been working out. I totally agree that people are fascinating (AND weird) - not only in what we do, but in what we think it is we're doing (like our own perceptions that I need to be more of a Yes Person, and you want to be More Organized). Who knows what it is really all about? (and if someone *does* know, I would appreciate a note - it would save me a lot of grief)

    New Playlist I am working on: songs that have that great nervous tension running all through them, interspersed with ones that have tension AND a chorus you can shout along with so your head doesn't explode.

  3. Wow, I would love to hear a couple examples of the tension kind of songs you refer to!
    I do have to say even I consider my method of categorizing each song pretty insane but it really works for me so I'm proud to be insane!
    every song I upload gets one of these in the comments:
    UP-- (sleepytime soothing)
    UP- (mellow/not danceable)
    UP= (danceable/head boppable)
    UP+ (manic)
    then if it has a certain tone, either through the lyrics or just how the music makes me feel it could get one of the following:
    joy-- (get the razor)
    joy- (kinda depressing)
    joy= (makes-a me smile)
    joy+ (exceedingly happy)

    these come most in handy when you don't have time to create a playlist for a specific event like a party and you just barely got the floor mopped and yourself showered and you just put on your playlist to "comment does not contain UP- (So with just that one restriction it could contain either up+ or up= but neither up- nor up--)" So you see, I'm INSANE! Luckily, I got the idea from someone's post on ipodlounge very early in my itunes phase so it was possible to do this as I uploaded things. It'd be a nightmare to do to an entire library.

  4. Holy Moley! That is more intricate than I imagined - but so cool! I don't even have external speakers for my iPod (what kind did you get?) - so playing it for people who are not me or not in my car doesn't really come up, ever, but I can see how handy that would be. I really need to play around some more with smart playlists. There are just so many things that can be done with them!

    I just looked and I do have a few, but they are pretty lame: New (which are songs that I put in after an arbitrary date that I have to go in and physically change - I barely use it); Never Played (um, never played on the ipod! I do use that one); Love (my very first smart playlist to see how they worked - all songs with love in the title); blog (these are songs I have downloaded from mp3 blogs - they have the word "blog" in the comments); and then some artist centric ones so I am only ever one click away from Prince, the Old 97's, fiona, Chris Isaak, and a couple of others. I really need to tidy up. OH! and my happy playlist, which are songs with "happy" in the comments, although that needs freshening as well. Some of this I think would be easier if I could just do it in iTunes without having to have the iPod attached.

    As for my tension song list - I'm still working on it, listening to things to see if they pass the test. I am having some internal debate on what gets to stay and what goes. BUT, as an example of the second kind of song (one with tension and some tension release) - I was thinking along the lines of Debaser. One minute you're chopping up eyeballs, oh, ho ho ho and the next you are screaming DEBASER. Maybe I would do better to finally have my "barely gripping reality/sanity" playlist, which Debaser would definitely fit into. (also the Frank Black cover of Sugar Daddy). Ooh - the violent femmes and the buzzcocks would both probably work (on either).

  5. Hi Nice Blog .I've made up my mind: I'm gonna buy an MP3 player. I just don't know which one. I like the Ipod batteries, but do I really need something that small?


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