[Media Meandry] Order From Chaos

Thirty days ago, I realized I needed to reorganize my album tagging system to better systematically listen through the 5,811 albums I’ve specifically decided I’d like to listen to for the first time. This number excludes relistening to any of the 7,736 albums I’ve already heard and rated. What’s the point of doing all that? When my life is chaotic, I find data management like tagging, organizing, or otherwise making sense of the world to be calming.

It’s taken me over 12 years to make that statement.

I first joined RYM on January 26 2008 for uncertain reasons. I gave a joke answer for joining. As I recall, I was looking for some videogame albums and must have found the website because of that, as it looks like my first few ratings were Final Fantasy albums. I remember cataloging all of my albums as I remembered them and enjoying that process. It must have been within that month that, on my frequent trips to my local library, I perused their album selection to borrow as many as I could.

I first heard Enter The Wu-Tang that way.

There have been months where I’ve had a waning interest in listening to new music, or relistening to some favorite albums, but I’ve kept up with this hobby of mine throughout all these years. I would say, honestly, that until I realized this root appeal for turning the chaos of my life into something more orderly, those months of low album rotations were the ones where I felt the most like it was a waste of time.

What else could I have accomplished in life if I didn’t do all this data management?

Well, it’s been a fun hobby for me, and that’s how I’ll choose to conceptualize it.

There are times when this hobby has taken more time than maybe it deserves, but that’s why over these past thirty days – not at every waking moment, mind you – I’ve reassessed why I’m doing what I’m doing and I’ve come to the happy conclusion that I only listen to music when I feel like it, now. Compared to an almost perverse statement I wrote in 2008 in the line people could use to write about what music they were currently listening to: “[I’m listening to] information, at every waking moment.”

I’ve since learned about information overload.

These past thirty days of thinking and planning have helped me realize that my original and current goals in listening to music have been to better understand the world around me. Over the past twelve-plus years of listening to music, I’ve learned a lot, but that’s not through purely adding more funny numbers to my database. It’s been through having lived a wild and weird life. There has usually always been music at some point around, sometimes in closer proximity, and through that process, I’ve learned to appreciate new thoughts, overcome old thoughts where maybe I disliked a genre or song initially, and can now realize that I don’t want the biggest database with the most number of albums reviewed.

I want music to help teach me about the world, as it has already.

This year’s Album Review Game helped me contextualize my learnings the most.

In previous years, I’d look for any album released that year, listen to it, give it a number, and move on. Last year, I decided to write some rudimentary thoughts about each album, which expanded out this year into writing extensive yet casual reviews of each album as I heard it. Early into the year, I wrote some fiction to spruce the content up before I realized how much depth of music knowledge I had. I’ve been to quite a few shows, so it’s been interesting writing about those experiences.

This is a good direction for me to go in the future, too.

For the 2021 Album Review Game, and on, I imagine that I’ll keep to the same general rules, format, and system. I’ve had the same ranking system for at least ten years now. This 2020 list has been getting popular among people on the site probably because I am writing a fair amount about each entry, unless I have nothing to say, and I have been covering so much. For me, it’s fun to listen to a wide variety of music, and the past thirty days of data reorganization has helped me better quantify how I want to listen to music going forward. I want to listen to newly released music, music I haven’t heard, music I have heard, and, I want to throw in audiobooks or podcasts. Each have their purpose.

My data reorganization focused specifically on music I haven’t heard.

Before, almost everything was under a singular tag, which was extremely unruly. Now, I’ve split it the tags up alphabetically, unless it’s for the current year’s albums. If I wanted to listen to a Rush album, then I’d tag that album with either “zz hear r” if I’m casually interested or “zz hear” to listen to it sooner, if I don’t bookmark it. Since I’ve figure out this level of detail during the time that my spine has needed to heal, I can apply this system with minimal effort when I return to work and going forward, so I can add in new albums, and if I don’t feel like listening to anything critically, I can listen to one of those “zz hear” albums.

I have a few joke tags for ZZ Top and ZZ Ward.

Within my tagging system, ZZ is at the bottom of the tags, and was an easy way for me to denote something that I’d like to check out. Through the years, it has been somewhat useful, but I’ve underutilized its potential for filling the air with music while I write or relax, since I hadn’t thought through this whole process. Now that I have, I might even be able to apply these data management strategies to my own chaotic life.

Take the time to rebuild your chaotic systems sometime.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: When I took the first screenshot, I considered how I wanted to take an after screenshot, but hadn’t thought about writing an essay until I was done.
Related: Other Media Meandry essays.
Screenshots: Larger versions: [1] [2] [3] Excluded was the last-minute return of the “ZZ Top” tag.
Written On: 2020 September 23 [8:26am to “understand the world around me” at 8:48am; 8:55am to “Last year,” at 9:02am; 3:210pm to 3:338pm]
Last Edited: 2020 September 23 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]


My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.