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We’re only one day into this CES/Macworld week and I’m already suffering from RSS overload. Trying to keep up with Gizmodo, Engadget, iLounge, and all the latest Diggs is truly an exercise in futility. And how much cosmic enlightenment have my bloodshot eyes and cramped fingers earned me? Not a whole heck of a lot. Sure, there have been tons of iPod docks, and alarm clocks, and car accessories announced in the past twenty-four hours, but nothing much more interesting or useful than what we already had. Just because you can slap an iPod dock onto something, doesn’t mean you should.

Still, I’m looking forward to Steve Job’s keynote address at Macworld tomorrow. He has a way of making even the most mundane announcements seem “insanely great” (at least until the spell wears off 30 minutes later). But no matter what marvelous gadgetry may be on the horizon, I only have one simple wish: More flexible tagging in iTunes.

iTune’s single-genre tagging option is so 20th Century. Seriously, if the world is ready for downloads over CDs, and singles over albums, then the time has come for tags over “genres.” You know, like tags on Flickr, or Technorati, or LastFM. Here’s my example: I’ve just downloaded some songs by Saian Supa Crew. As it’s set up now, I need to assign a genre: French? World? Rap? French Rap? Some of the songs have a reggae vibe, and I would like them to show up on my reggae playlists; do I assign the Reggae genre to them?

Being able to assign multiple tags to each song would make playlist creation so much more flexible. My Meiko Kaji collection could be tagged: Japanese, Female, Vocal, 1970s, Ballad. If I want to hear an all-female ballad playlist, I’d just make a smart playlist tagged Female+Ballad, and she’d be there. Make a playlist tagged Japanese+2000s, and Meiko won’t be on it, but my Ayumi Hamasaki songs will.

Tags don’t just have to relate to genre, either. Make a NSFW tag to filter out songs you don’t want to accidentally play for your co-workers, or a Swingers tag to keep track of music you want to play at your next wife-swapping party. The possibilities are limitless.

Tags should be easy to assign, just like the current star ratings are, so that it’s easy to tag a song as we’re listening to it. (I don’t know about you, but I find star ratings completely useless… but that’s another topic altogether.) To take it one step further, we could also choose to share our tags with the iTunes Store, so that everyone could see the most popular user tags for each song. Sorting the iTunes Store by user-created tags could be a fun way to discover new music.

That’s my little wish for Macworld tomorrow. iTunes 8: Now With Tags! Please note: It’s not a prediction and I’m not holding out a lot of hope. Steve will probably just end up announcing the iPod phone, and the iTube (iTV) set-top video player, and a super-slim 12″ Powerbook, and… yawn. :)

If you think this whole tagging scheme has merit, send Apple a note to let them know (and feel free to link back to this article).

4 Responses to “My Little Macworld Wish”

  1. Coward says:

    Hey,

    I think you are right, tags would be a great idea. For now I just have to create “foundation” playlists (like “Not At Work”) and use that one to exclude songs from other playlists.

  2. Frank says:

    Exactly! I don’t have any songs that could not be classified with more than one tag. Whenever I fill in the “Genre” box, I feel guilty…

  3. Podophile says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this is a good idea. A few months ago I started using the “comments” field to add tags to tracks. Just single descriptive words separated by spaces. I could then set up smart playlists like “comments contains female” + “comments contains rap” + “comments contains french” and get only songs by French female rappers. It works really well, but it’s a pain to enter the tags manually, and to remember the exact list of tags I used. We need a little plug-in that will display a drop list of user-defined tags, and will add the selected tag to the comments field on the fly. Any programmers or Applescript writers out there?

  4. [...] prior to Macworld this year, I wrote that my one wish was for Apple to release a version of iTunes that supports tags — a la Flicker and Technorati [...]