Numerology, Cataloguing and Lists

In 2006 I started tracking the music that I listened to on my computer via Last.fm and the Scrobbler. It wasn’t something I seriously considered the implication of, at first, but it’s now 2014 and I just passed 90,000 scrobbles (Last.fm speak for plays of songs) and I have done several different posts on the blog each year taking part the numbers and adding some context to the results. This year’s post might be delayed a little into September for obvious reasons, but it will come as I enjoy the surprises that the numbers provide each time I take them apart.

One thing that the scrobbling has done since then is that it has made me interested in cataloguing numbers for lots of other things that I do – for example, each blog post I’ve ever written is stored offline, catalogued, each with a unique “document number”. That’s probably a bit insane, of course, but otherwise I wouldn’t be able to just randomly find the posts that exist all over the place. However, that kind of ornate archiving is something that I really enjoy making sure is workable. Each episode of the Monday Graveyard, too, has a code that means when they are all in a folder they are easily identifiable.

Take episode 16, which was broadcast on the 24th of March – it has the initially unintelligible code of 140324MG01E016. The first six digits are the date of broadcast (in the format YYMMDD, because Windows is dreadful at understanding numbers sometimes) which means that all episodes are in chronological order by default, no matter when the MP3 file was burned. Then, the two letters “MG” which are self-explanatory are added to define what it is (the reason for which will be explained shortly). After that, the “01” which is for the first “series” of the Monday Graveyard, which so far hasn’t ended. I am considering calling the live return in October a second series if I come back. Finally, the next set is “E” followed by the show number (which was future proofed to have three digits, in-case of going to more than 100). In addition, I have three series of the Wednesday Graveyard which follow the same naming scheme, which creates a nice uniformity that calms my soul – which explains the MG.

When doing the Wednesday Graveyard, I had already decided on “series’” of shows, which is why the first episode I put online was episode 1.1 – series one, episode one. I haven’t done that with the Monday Graveyard, as each show will be sequential, but they do have different codes so I know that they are different. Each episode has statistics too, like listens, shares, loves etc that I catalogue too in an Excel sheet. But, I went off topic there…

You see, the cataloguing is part of being in control of the things that I make. As long as you keep the list up to date, and refreshed, it’ll always be a good source of information. I try to list things every day now, to make sure that I can keep track of things. I don’t know if that is because that is the way my brain is wired or that it is just a personality trait - but the use of lists and writing things down is pretty much the only way that I can remember things or learn things. At university I used to copy out the equations and strategies for problems easily four to six times, in full, as it was the only way to get my brain to actually realise “oh yeah, that’s what I’m supposed to be remembering”. It is a technique that I still do to this day – using the cloud more, as for shopping lists in Google Keep, and what not.

Now that I am due to be a dad for the first time, I wondered back the idea of Scrobbling, and maybe I’d be recording a lot of my babies “firsts”, of course, but also the total number of times something happens. I was reminded when thinking about this of someone who did that, but instead of around birth did it around death. The Feltron Annual Report was first introduced to me by a 99 Percent Invisible episode, number 31, and he does that – he takes the things he does every day, catalogues them, and creates the same kind of thing I do with my music – a yearly appraisal. He took this information, when his father passed away in 2010, and created a personalised portrait of his father using only the data he left behind.

It is interesting to think what we data we will leave behind. Me, I’m leaving behind this blog, and a load of Google storage for every search I do, every site I visit, every message and interaction I have. It is strange to think that my child might have their entire life mapped out by the data they leave behind. I like lists – I like them more when they are live and used in powerful ways, but a simple shopping list or chore list makes things really easy to manage for me. If only life was more built for single lists.