Dec 19, 2009

A phenomenally dull post about cataloguing music

Rustle rustle.

Chief executive of Corgi toys, £500,000 per annum, company car provided? Hmm, depends on the size of the car.

Rustle rustle.

Cleaner, £8.50 an hour, required to work in blogosphere clearing up dead bits of old posts? Nah.

Rustle rustle rustle. (This is meant to be me browsing the job pages, by the way, not stealing cows.)

Ah, here's one. It seems Bleep was recently the lookout for a "bright, enthusiastic intern", as opposed to a dull, maudlin one, to help manage their content.

That meant cataloguing and maintaining all of Bleep's lovely tunes. As an avid watcher of early 'WAP' catalogue numbers on Warp Records and as someone who still reads The Guinness Book Of British Hit Singles like a novel, this job has its appeal.

Cataloguing your own music collection is very important but increasingly difficult to do in a digital age. It used to be that my CDs and records would get sorted into any one of three fairly obvious ways:

- colour of the spine;

- alphabetical order of first vowel of artist's name;

- number of key changes.

But now my collection is a lot more protracted, with shards of downloads littered all over the place. I have folders called 'random downloads', 'more random downloads' and 'I think I downloaded these while drunk'.

So how do I order things now? By file size? By the time it took to download? By likeness of the waveform to the Manchester skyline?

I asked some of my Twitter followers how they organised their record collection. The public responses were thusly:

- Andy Taylor has all his CDs in a "big bloody box", so lets iTunes do all the work.

- a similar story was told by Alex Hall, although he uses a big bloody bookcase rather than a big bloody box.

- Jonathan Anelli asked: "Remind me? What's a CD collection again?" This could have been an incisive comment on the development of technology, or he could just be senile.

- Richard Holden used to alphabetise his CD collection until he, well, basically got a life. He uses iTunes.

- and Robert Marshall talked about Linux and Amarok, but he might as well have been talking about mechanical zebras and jellied pot noodles. But he helped demonstrate a point.

Despite my Linux ignorance, the point I got was this: whatever system we use, we are terribly uncreative when it comes to organising our music collection.

CDs and records used to be part of our environment, part of our decor. I still have a CD rack with duck feet.
You just don't get that when you let your cataloguing be defined by what computer you happen to use, no matter which trendy-looking skin you select in the options menu.

I refuse to be kowtowed by my komputer-- er-- I mean, by my computer. My files of randomness remain because it reflects how I used to organise my CDs. I do try and be organised according to these fairly obvious rules:

- colour of the mp3;

- alphabetical order of first vowel of the file size when written in letters;

- grouped by whichever daytime TV presenter I was fantasising about marrying when I downloaded the track.

It doesn't look like I'll be trotting to Kentish Town any time soon to join Bleep in their quest for beautifully catalogued data.

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