Saturday, December 10, 2005


As Flickr has finally convinced me, tags are insanely awesome. Photos of shelties like Declan, photos of my neighborhood, photos tagged seattle and coffee.

I was making a playlist this morning in itunes, and decided that I wanted a bunch of jangly guitar songs. Unfortunately, all the songs I'd consider jangly are spread out across a few genres in my itunes, like Blood and Roses by The Smithereens in pop, and Troubled Times by Fountains of Wayne in my catch-all genre bucket of alternative. (A long standing sideproject that I never make any headway on is to reclassify all my alternative songs with better genre titles.) So within itunes, I have no way to easily generate a smart playlist of jangly songs. The closest you can come within itunes is to put "jangly" into the comments field of a song's info. Smart playlists at least can see this, so you can generate a smart playlist where "comment contains jangly" and work off that. But there's no real tag browser, and no good way to give songs multiple tags or multi-word tags. Yes, you can get "comment" to show up as one of the columns in my version of itunes. But if you put in the comments of one song "jangly blue" and in the comments of another song "quiet jangly" they aren't going to show up next to each other when you sort on the comments field. So it's really a stop-gap measure.

MP3 -or ID3/4/N- tags are little bit different. If you haven't used them, they embed information about the artist, song title, album title, genre, and some other bibliographic data into the MP3 file itself. That comment field is a ID3 (or ID4? I don't really know) tag. This is really handy, obviously, but I wish that it had some other name.

Because I was getting annoyed at the comment field this morning, and I decided was obviously not the first person to want to assign tags to my songs, I did the obvious thing- tried running a web search to see if there was some sort of itunes tagging plugin that I could download. Here are my results. As you can see- LOTS of hits on tags. But not the kind of tags that I want. Ordinarily in this sort of search, where one word can mean a few different things, it's time to pull out the "not" operator, but I'm having trouble coming up with a not phrase that will exclude ID3, and only show me results that talk about, for lack of a better description, keyword tags. The problem with doing "not ID3" explicitly is that there's a fair amount of discussion on the web about using various ID3 fields to emulate tagging. (Most people, it seems, to lean towards the comment field.)

So, a fairly unsatisfying morning on two fronts. While I'm on that vein, Blogger really needs to get its act together & get a good way to tag blog posts, as well, so that I could tag this "unsatisfied" and "tags."

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