Rewind: Editing the Playlist of My Life

Earlier this morning, while cleaning out my desk, I stumbled onto not one but three iPod Shuffles. Amazingly, all of them had retained their charge, even though I have not touched them since I moved over six months ago. It was fun to see them all in one place and realize how cyclical Apple can be when it comes to design – a rectangular shape followed by a square and then a rectangle and now a square again (I am biased towards the third edition of the iPod Shuffle — the one without any controls).

When I started listening to the iPod Shuffle this morning, I realized what I had on my hands was a playlist of my most favorite songs, each one with a memory or a story associated with the song itself. I didn’t need to skip songs because in many ways it was musical bliss. Today, when I listen to music on my computer, I often resort to using the Genius feature – mostly because it makes it easy to auto-magically find music from a gargantuan music library. It had initially taken me nearly six months to build a perfect list and then only keep adding to it, something I described in a post I wrote back in September 2005 as the iShuffle Principle.

The original iPod Shuffle sent me on a mission of whittling down a lot of things and packing them into a couple of suitcases. Ironically, that behavior of self-editing has started to spread into other parts of my life. In the past, I would take a flyer on mainstream clothing brands – but now I don’t think about the brand, but about the shirt I absolutely love, the jeans that are an ideal fit and a watch that I will wear for rest of my life.  I have even started to forgo coffee if I can’t get it from a handful of places known for their quality.

I only buy the paper editions of books I absolutely love — the rest of them are simply Kindle downloads. My favorite television shows, such as Frost, Foyle’s War and House MD, I have as DVDs — everything else is on Netflix or a digital download from the Apple store. I wonder if this is a behavior that is going to get more pervasive in the future. Will we react to the problem of plenty by becoming highly selective and taking our hyper-personalized media consumption habits into how we shop, live and behave?