Intentional Internet – Data Collection

Most people who undertake 100-day projects capture each day, with the goal of getting to look back on all the work at the end and feeling a sense of accomplishment. I won’t be doing that because I sort of don’t care? Ultimately I want to say, “I wanted to get back into blogging” instead of “I did a 100-day project on blogging and here it is, look at what I made.” When it comes to other ways that people quantify their lives, I have a similar attitude. The exception is Last.fm.

Since 2006 I’ve been keeping a record of music I listen to. With this data:

  • I can figure out when I was going through a good time or a rough time.
  • I can remember challenging projects, like the time I played one song about 26 times on repeat.
  • I can figure out when I was in good shape.
  • I can remember periods of travel.
  • I can remember when I had my first child.

At some point my scrobble rate went way down. I didn’t stop listening to music though, the ways I listened to it just evolved because we moved away from music downloads to streaming services. The DJ shows that are staples in my music diet also started streaming independently from their own websites. For a few years Last.fm wouldn’t scrobble any of this.

A few years later my scrobble rate went down again. This time, it was because I had a child and stopped blasting music around the house with the same abandon. Later, it was because I started working for a distributed company and I can’t read and listen to music without losing focus.

Data is nice, but without context, you can’t call it history!

There’s been scrobbling support for streaming services for some time now, and plenty of browser extensions too, yet I still notice that I don’t scrobble as much anymore. I wonder…

  • Am I trying to be perfect? Am I afraid of the data telling me that I am no longer the same person musically?
  • How do I feel about the idea of a scrobble history that reflects where I am in life now? A person with a family? Like when the husband POISONED IT WITH VAMPIRE WEEKEND because we started sharing an account?
  • Do I implicitly think it is less beautiful to look back on a time where I could say, “Ah, we played the white noise track every day because of the baby,” or “That was when the toddler was obsessed with Mother Goose?” Why do I want to keep those tracks from being scrobbled?
  • How is this different from trying to portray perfection on social media‚Äďan attitude I feel very strongly against?

Moreover, I do wonder if there’s something lost now that streaming services are how we mostly listen to music. Maybe I don’t scrobble anymore because I use a Spotify mix like background noise and I think the music is mostly crap. Do I listen to music more intentionally when I own it? When it lives on my hard drive or on a record?

If you’ve actually gotten to the end of this post, and have Last.fm, add me!