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Playlists turned into biographical records

Image credit: https://medium.com/@vitaliyrizhkov/why-we-capture-life-moments-through-photography-f5d15ac5e51e; https://i.etsystatic.com/11980730/r/il/4e4cc0/2351599401/il_794xN.2351599401_gbi8.jpg

Povilas S
Povilas S Jan 28, 2021
I've just reached my passive long-term goal of 1000 songs in a personal Spotify playlist. This was done by simply adding newly discovered songs that I like and it took me more than 6 years (I'm quite picky).

Now if I look back on it, I have a date near each song indicating when it was added and the song evokes certain memories associated with it - where I was then, who I was with, what were the circumstances like, how I felt, etc. The emotional aspect is especially important for the memory to be vivid and a song does especially that - it serves as a physical equivalent for a particular emotional state.

So if I wanted, I could quite easily write up a sort of biography/sparse diary of those 6 years by following the playlist chronologically. What would be really convenient though, is having a possibility to add notes next to each song, upload pictures/videos from that time to make it a memory storing tool.

People usually gather pictures and sort them in folders or just keep them chaotically for this purpose. Being able to conveniently tidy things chronologically and have a digitally represented sequence of memories would add a valuable dimension to this. Also, few aspects (pictures, writing, music) would be combined to enrich the experience. This would turn the whole thing into a kind of personal biographical movie.

So all it would take is a simple extension to a music streaming platform that would let you do this. This could also be approached from a different angle, e.g. having a digital template that lets you store pictures chronologically in a list-manner and then adding notes and songs (if there were any favorites at that time) next to them, or alternatively one could start with writing. A list of favorite Youtube videos or any similar digital collection sorted chronologically can serve the same purpose.

The most convenient approach for a specific person would depend on what they continue doing on a daily basis without putting much effort into it. For people who are into discovering and collecting music, the playlist approach would be the best, for people who photograph a lot and collect pictures, it would be easier to add songs and notes to chronologically stored pictures (Instagram style), etc.

This is to an extent what social media does - yes, but it's not specifically designed for that purpose. If you could somehow isolate your Facebook or other social media posts done during a certain time period and then add "supporting material" to them to serve as memory collection, - that would be it.

Social media is also not very good for this, because looking back on one's memories is a very personal experience. Many would want to keep such a specifically designed memory list private (just like a diary). No one can experience your past looking back on your Facebook posts in a way you would.
Creative contributions

Final message

Spook Louw
Spook Louw Apr 03, 2021
This might not be directly related to your idea, but it is inspired by it.

What if you could record a final message to your loved ones and the world before you die and then state in your will that you want a link or even better, a QR code inscribed on your tombstone or urn or anywhere really.

The technology is already available, people are getting tattoos that direct you to a certain spotify track. All we need is a platform that stores everyone's personal message. This could be an excellent way for your loved ones to remember you by, or for people who never had the chance to meet you while you were alive to get to know you.

People have been known to revisit the recorded messages of their loved ones' answering machines, surely, they'd appreciate a personalized message more.

Which leads me to another option, you can pre record personal messages for certain people and leave the links or codes to them in your will.

Recording messages for after you've died isn't a new idea, but I don't think anyone's had the option of leaving a message to the public. Imagine how interesting it could be to walk through a graveyard and listen to what people chose to leave behind.


you just need a programmer and founding

Martina Pesce
Martina Pesce Mar 03, 2021
I sincerely cannot think of anything to add to your idea to improve it. Sounds perfect. I would totally be a fan.

I am actually surprised this is not already a thing.
Povilas S
Povilas S5 months ago
And a way to popularize it, otherwise nobody would use it xD This is probably the hardest part, it's why many good startup ideas fail, like the social music apps for example. But just to use it for yourself would be also cool:) Another problem though is that you have to either build a whole separate program for this (meaning a separate player also) or cooperate with already existing music streaming programs like Spotify and Youtube, because they have to agree to implement such an extension or otherwise you might try to hack it somehow and use it on a small scale.
Martina Pesce
Martina Pesce5 months ago
Now that I think about it...you should add the possibility for the note you add to be also a vocal one if you wish to and to add drawings (with a simple in-built app or supporting formats of more specific apps for it)

Already existing tool to achieve this

Lucía Apr 26, 2021
I'm quite a big fan of the so called 'Tools for thought', because they truly allow your vague/abstract ideas to come to life. If you want to do this journal thing for personal use only (by that I mean not creating an app/software specifically for this), you could easily achieve it in Notion.

Notion allows you to easily embed spotify songs/playlist/albums in it's pages and you could add notes or pictures beside it. Here's a quick mock-up I made of how I think it could go:
It's simple, quick, looks good and pretty customizable too. If you want to, you can export the page as a .pdf or turn on link sharing to share the page with your friends/family. If they're also Notion users you could give them access to comment or edit the page so that they can contribute and add their viewpoint to the memory. As you can see you can get really creative with it.

It's a great idea, I even might start doing this myself! What I've been doing so far is creating monthly playlists and adding the songs I listen to on a daily basis, but this is far better! Edit: here's what embedding a playlist looks like

Povilas S
Povilas S3 months ago
Great, thanks again!:) I have to confess that when I checked that Tools for Thought website you shared it didn't appear very useful at first glance, because the other programs they recommend didn't seem anywhere close (I checked each website briefly) to being as impressive/useful as Obsidian, but now since you showed how to realize this idea with one of those programs I sure have to reconsider that :D

One thing I'm wondering about - if you add the whole long playlist into Notion at once, would you still be able to write separate notes/add photos near each of its songs, or is this only possible if you add one song at a time?
Lucía3 months ago
Povilas S ah, I can't add an image to a comment so I'll edit the post and add it there. But basically no, if you add the playlist you "comment" on the playlist (because what you're doing is adding a text block).

And with respect to the tools, they are exactly that: tools. Their true value stems from the users and to what extent they can exploit them. But finding the one that works the best for you is a huge start.
Lucía3 months ago
By embedding the songs I mean that you can hit play and listen to them without leaving Notion :)

Playlists made according to your location

Povilas S
Povilas S Jul 22, 2021
I sometimes create playlists named after various locations I happen to spend time in while traveling (usually different cities or countries, etc.). I do this because I usually discover new songs in new places and then they get associated with that place in my memory. Or even if I listen to some old songs there the same might be the case. Making a playlist with the location’s name and some songs that were the most “trending” for me there ensures I won’t forget all this and will be able to re-listen to it later and recreate some sentiments. So that’s a bit of a reverse approach to the original idea of this session.

This process could easily be automated by a simple extension of any music streaming platform. The system knows your location according to your IP. An app would detect whenever you are considerably further away from your usual location/home and spending some solid (at least one day) amount of time in that new location. This would serve as a sign for an app to start making a playlist or rather to start monitoring songs you listen there. To increase privacy, it could re-ask for permission to get your location data in order to perform this function.

The system could either make a playlist including each song you played there or (and this seems like a better option) only keep a record of your listening activity there which you could review later and choose some songs that are the most emotionally significant to you and that remind you of that place the most. The playlist would then be made only from the songs that you indicated. Another option would be for an app to take into account only those songs that you never listened on the platform before but started listening in that particular location. Those would most likely be newly discovered ones (given they were not played by you on other platforms before).

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General comments

Anja M
Anja M6 months ago
This is something I do with physical polaroid photos and small, trivial memorabilia I collect, regardless of the occasion. When I say "regardless", I mean that situation comes spontaneously and you decide to pin it down, with an object, photo, writing, separately or combined, although goes without saying combined makes for a more lively and enriching experience.
With a digital space tweaked to instigate such a personal memory lane, this can work in an even more agile and versatile manner. And although there are different kinds of users, and most of us can testify how we get all softy and nostalgic when even one "today a year ago" pops up, I think this sort of an app should be set more delicately to inspire our more active reminiscence and a general role in our memories or memories-to-be, opposite to what we have by just popping up on Facebook, Instagram, etc. This would e.g. include offering to make sub-lists of songs (e.g. "songs reminding me of rain/joy/high school") and commenting in a sentence sth about them. Also a tab to always write if something has changed a lot in a way you hear some song differently than what you have for most previous time. So, a lot of inspiring and aiding questions, based on a general study of what people usually concern with the most with such phenomena, and space for adding various other media connected to one song or other connections between them you make. The app should allow for both plain whole lists of everything inserted, but also many sub-classifications of your own desire. Like the layers Darko mentioned. Obviously, it should be for the widest audience, although with these settings another natural filter would occur, and that is that for diary-oriented people, or better said: people who find it particularly meaningful and enjoyable to collect and piece together these kinds of things. Those would spontaneously benefit the most from the app.
Povilas S
Povilas S6 months ago
Anja M Yes, that's true what you said about people who are into diary writing/memory collecting benefiting the most from such an app. That is because they already enjoy it and it wouldn't take them much additional effort. Those people could add elements to the designated sections in the app each day to make that day memorable.

But many people may not want to make that effort. For many people the "looking back" aspect would be the most relevant, I think. That is when you look back on a playlist (or any kind of collection of elements) that wasn't made deliberately for a memory storing purpose (an exception to this could be photos), but it does bring back memories anyway, it's like a side effect. Looking back on it after a while you may want to write something about that particular time you remember, or add some photos, to additionally supplement those memories. The nostalgia would motivate you to make that effort. But if you were to do it every day it would lose that emotional aspect (for many) and become just a job. While a playlist (for its own sake) you would continue to build more or less effortlessly.

And it's the same when it comes to adding more layers to the app, it's great on one hand, it gives more possibilities, but to use all that you need to be motivated or it becomes just an even bigger job. If it's simple enough, then it might be more appropriate for a larger audience.

Juran6 months ago
The idea is very cool and innovative, but what happens when you feel like listening to the same song again? Building the biographical playlist requires you to find the new "perfect sad song" every time you are sad. It seems a bit hard for everyday usage. The option to re-use the "old sad song" should be an option, but then it could easily happen that you have 50+ duplicates of the same sad song in 2020. That makes the playlist less descriptive since the same song is connected to many different physical and emotional states you found yourself in.
Darko Savic
Darko Savic6 months ago
Great idea. I imagine a life-logging app in the cloud which could take all sorts of multimedia:
- your music
- page snapshots of any links you feed it, like articles, news, blogs, social media stuff you liked, etc.
- your own voice notes
- your text notes
- shows and movies you liked
- photos with friends or stuff you snapped
- desires, goals, ideas

You would add new people/animals you met and how you felt about them. New places you saw, etc.

The life-logging app would have several layers. The bottom layer would be raw mixed content, then on a slightly higher level you would write summaries, generally describing collections in the bottom layer, then again on a higher level you would describe weeks, months, how you felt, what was important in that period, etc. You could rate the layers with emojis. When you zoom out you could get a general feel of how your life is going.

This would create something like a zoomable map, you could zoom into details or zoom out into periods.

Securing such data and making it private would be very difficult. Blockchain maybe.

What do you think?:)
Juran6 months ago
The "stories" on Instagram could serve this purpose easily. You can add music to any video or a photo, write text or simply some hashtags, save it on your profile for everyone or just have it in your stories archive.