musical genius

while it’s always great (?) to discover new internet services that amplify my already significant internet addiction, i find that i’m usually much more excited about features i had never thought of than those i had been waiting for. Delicious was definitely in the first category; tagging articles has changed the way i think about what i read online. it feels like i have an auxillary brain to keep track of what i’ve been thinking. the new Genius feature in iTunes 8 definitely fits into the latter category; i’ve been waiting since the days of napster for someone to figure out how to make playlists automatically, because i frequently feel as if i’m only listening to the same 15% of my music. after activating Genius, one can select (almost) any song in the library and press a button on the bottom right to have iTunes make a playlist of songs that “follow” it.

so far, i’ve been really impressed with Genius’ productions. I’ve never thought that i am very good at making playlists; it seems like i’m always picking from among the same short list of songs. Genius was really the missing piece of the digital music experience. The closest thing i had found before was last.fm, which i’ve always found disturbingly big brother-ish and too removed from how i actually listen to music. Two more “thoughts” about Genius:

  • Big Brother factor: it’s not really clear what information iTunes is gathering and sending to the Music Store when you activate or update Genius. Presumably, it works in a similar manner to last.fm, but the whole thing is a little opaque. i’ve found that turning off the sidebar, which has links to recommended songs from the iTunes Music Store, is sufficient for me to forget about this uncertainty.
  • The Beatles: Genius doesn’t work at all with Beatles’ songs

    i assume this is a result of the continuing dispute between the beatles’ apple records and apple computers. this is definitely annoying, but not too big a deal since beatles shuffle works well for me.

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