Damola's blog

Scrobble Everything.

I like scrobbling streams, I wish I could use it more.

March 18, 2021 | 4 min. read

I like knowing and keeping as much as I can about myself (but I despise someone/something else doing it behind my back). Partly because I’m pretty forgetful, partly because of the sentimental value of having that reference. When I was an avid Google maps user (Android), I used to depend on location tracking history. I would even use it to know what time I was arriving/leaving work for filling out time sheets. I’ve moved on from that. But I do miss knowing about how long I was at a place on a certain day without relying on my finicky memory. Unfortunately, nothing currently will give me that without using it for targeted-ads and, God knows what else. I want to have all that data, with me in complete control and ownership over it.

Track all the things.

This might sound counter-intuitive. But here’s the thing; I love Journalling. And it’s such a beneficial ritual for me that I would not give it up even if I had to use a tool/app that isn’t “super secure”. In a way, I like tracking; It’s the way it happens currently, it’s scary thinking of what the data is used for, both in the open (mostly ads) and behind closed doors (…feeding the MAN? ¯_(ツ)_/¯ ). I wish there was an…open-standard? I don’t know what it would be. But I want a way for me to log activities (even mundane ones) relating to me - that’s low effort to maintain, easy to control, and available only to me and possibly anyone else I choose to share it with.

Scrobble: To publish one’s music-listening habits to the Internet via software, in order to track when and how often certain songs are played. Wiki

I want scrobbling, for everything. Digital activites (watching a movie/show, reading a book …) and anything else I want. Unfortunately, currently, only LastFM offers a way to scrobble 1; only music streams are supported; and it’s always public.

Centralization:

If Last FM changes anything about their service, or it goes out, there’s no where else to go. So if scrobbling will ever be mainstream and reliable, it has be an open/generalized concept. Something anyone can implement - like email. For example, I should be able to scrobble my Netflix watch history, Spotify streams etc to one scrobbling service, and then later on, migrate to a, let’s say self-hosted version? - and it would continue to function.

Share it:

I want this fictional scrobble service to let users choose who they want to share a particular scrobble with, if anyone. Right now, on LastFM, everything is public. Someone has to know your username to find you but besides that, there is not much of control. This is a showstopper for an “everything scrobbler”, I think. Even I wouldn’t share all activities in my life if it’s going to become a public and permanent trail. I don’t have a “how” it will be done. Social media platforms sort of have a sharing/visibility concept, something along those lines. However, the primary goal of the scrobbler is to benefit the individual. If it’s not possible to share at all, that’s fine too. There’s still value to the user.

But, Why?

Power to the user:

Letting user’s own their data, I think, might be a way to disrupt targeted ads. I don’t hate ads. I appreciate the value of marketing. But there’s just this thin (or maybe not so thin) line that when is crossed in an ad makes me uneasy. Creepy ads. Those ads are usually more offputting than “influencing” me. I don’t have control over how granular I want ads I see are. It’s either random ads or targeted ads. And the idea that a company owns data about me and that data is a competitive advantage for them, is rather odd. It’ll be much better if each person gets decide what part of their life is public and monetized and what they want to keep to themselves, for however long they want.

Time Machine:

This is a harder sell but it is my main motivation for this idea. I want to have a reference when someone asks me the last good movie I saw on Hulu and I can’t, for the life of me, remember. I mean, how cool would it be to have a stream of my activities like:

  • started reading “Everything is F*cked” on Kindle on <Date> at <Time>
  • listened to “Lo-Fi Beats” on Spotify at …
  • worked on blog post draft at …
  • Watched Paradise PD (do not watch this show) on Netflix…

And I would have that stream auto-populated and I can look back on it whenever I want. I could have “books read” set to auto share. This is pretty much like an automated journal. But, having it as a “standard” format everybody follows, would be awesome. I can see friend’s “music streams” regardless of their streaming platform (like LastFM). Or books read, even if it’s a bootlegged epub. I can get a summary of my month, year; life in review without going through a bunch of different platforms (for the ones that even provide such a thing). I can also see someone else’s activities, if they’ve chosen to share

It’s hard to get people to willingly and explicitly volunteer this much information about them into some … tech-thing. Of course, with a good amount of trust built up, some people will. On the flip side, a lot of us are currently giving all this data away (wether we like it, or even chose to or not). If we could put together what the popular apps/services have on us - what I’ve listed here would be insignificant. So maybe, in a way: This is sorta kinda probable? One can dream. I just want my everything-scrobbler.

Misc.

  1. There are alternative stream scrobbling platforms, like wavy.fm with less functionality and mostly the same qualms I have with LastFM. LastFM is THE scrobbling service.


Adedamola Shomoye

By Adedamola Shomoye

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