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?


Sumit Sharma

Thank you for sharing your insights. I think a key aspect is HOW to continue to maintain an “iPod shuffle” on an ongoing basis, and not succumb to the next new version…


I moved from Hamburg to Copenhagen to Berlin to London to New York, carrying my thousands of books and records with me like Robert de Niro carrying his load in the movie the Mission. The fact that I can now move about the world with my Kindle, my Mac and my iphone is liberating. I also have loads of old photos (and films) in various formats that I would love to digitize.


Re: 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?

People over the age of 28 years old start showing the same behavior pattern whether they live digital or analog lives. Sad but true!

Ajit Jaokar

Hi Om, I love your work and posts but this one a one of the best since it makes you think and leads to a change in behaviour. I shall try and adopt same and see how I go next year! happy holidays :) kind rgds Ajit


Interesting thoughts. I’m attempting to de-clutter our house and especially my home office as I prepare for a new job where I’ll be working from home. I bought a lot of physical media (Music CDs, DVD movies, games, books) in the past because I thought they were more flexible – not locked to a specific ecosystem.

But over time, I’m beginning to take a similar view. I get games from Valve’s Steam service; download music on iTunes, download new books on the iPAD (using the Kindle app), and limit my DVD purchases to important classics (Apocalypse Now is on my Christmas list).

I’m slowly letting go of the physical for the digital.

But then there’s the boxes of film negatives and slides I have to scan. Time to curate those as well.

Steve Rubel

Om, you are not alone. I too have migrated to certain products and services and brands. For example, I am more loyal to certain blogs and less so than others. I even buy all my luggage from one brand. Curation will make this even more of a reality for others. But quality is in. Happy holidays and hoping to see you in 2011.


Only now did I notice that I buy CD’s of my favorite albums and keep them in the changer of my car. Everything else is on my touch which is in the console. Enlightening!

Comments are closed.