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August 22, 2005

Nostalgia

This morning the shuffled playlist on my iPod served me up Bjork's "Big Time Sensuality." "Debut" was one of the 12 CDs I brought with me to Hong Kong when I lived there for 6 steamy weeks in the summer of 2000. I kept all the spare CDs in the punchcode safe of my overposh hotel room and would parcel a couple out at a time to feed my discman.

As a result, "Big Time Senuality" is, for me, the smell of the Hong Kong subway at rush hour and the 7-storey astonishment of a Kowloon electronics store after work.

Sadly, I didn't keep a blog, didn't have a digital camera and didn't have an iPod at that time. Aside from some lengthy emails (one a 20-page review of the 2nd Eminem album) there are hardly any digital artifacts of that trip.

But here's an idea that would make the iPod Photo more interesting to me if there were. iTunes keeps track of your listening history, including songs you heard on your iPod. iPhoto knows when you took the pictures that it stores. What if when you're listening to a given song on your iPod, it showed you pictures taken around the time you'd previously heard that song. To me, this would be much more interesting than just showing a random slideshow or the album art.

I would also like it if my iPod stored a copy of my blog's posts (partially available in XML, just like the iTunes history) so that it could toss up a couple posts from the same time period.

Of course, this is only interesting if you've had iTunes, iPhoto or a blog for a couple years. But that will be increasingly true.

Basically, the most valuable data on my laptop are my iTunes music history (from December 2002), my photos (June 2002) and my email archives (August 1996). This is the stuff that has to move with me when I switch computers. And as time goes on, this is the stuff that will be more and more rewarding to review, combine and surface in new ways.

4 comments:

Gwynneth said...

i miss hk. i have been lucky not to be there during summer tho.

Buzz Andersen said...

Fantastic feature idea! The only problem logistically is that iTunes/iPod currently doesn't store the full listening history, only the last play date. It's still a good idea, though, so I'll file a feature request with the iTunes/iPhoto teams on your behalf :-).

I've actually been meaning to do a weblog post about how I use on-the-go playlists as a sort of listening journal, for precisely the same reasons you mention. I have a lot of unexpected associations of music with different places (Primal Scream's "Vanishing Point" album never fails to remind me of Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, for example).

Jason Goldman said...

Oh that's right ... it's just the last played and the number of times listened to.

And yeah, I imagine everyone has these sense-associations, with music ranking only second to smell in its ability to produce them. (iPod Sniff, perhaps?)

Basically, it would be nice for the iPod to provide more interesting ways to read the liner notes of your life's soundtrack.

MrsTarina said...

and your point to this obsered bolg would be?