Omphaloskepsis of the day: what have I been listening to?

There’s no surer way of driving away visitors than to spend too much time contemplating one’s navel. And yet, here I go…

I realized a few minutes ago that I had left iTunes turned on most of the day, even though I wasn’t around, playing through four “Rhino Hi-Five” greatest hits EPs, including three I had just purchased today: Gordon Lightfoot, Christopher Cross, Seals and Crofts, and the one I already owned, The Cars. (One of these things is not like the others.) Yes, that’s a triple dose of yacht rock. And I missed it.

Anyway, that realization led to another: that all of these excess plays that I hadn’t actually been listening to have ticked up both the songs’ play count in iTunes and their “scrobbled” totals on my profile. Oops. But contemplating that, I became interested in checking out a little bit more of the data has been compiling about my listening habits. In the beginning I only signed up with to handle automatic scrobbling, so my playlist could show up in real-time on this site. Cool, but the details you can dig up on the site itself go way beyond that.

The statistic I found the most interesting was the total number of plays of a given artist over various periods of time. And so, with that thrilling introduction, here are screenshots of my personal listening charts for the past 12 months, the past 3 months, and the past week.

Last 12 Months

Scrobbles - 12 months
What did I say about navel gazing? I’ve listened to my own music more than I’ve listened to artists #2 through #8 put together. Granted, that’s in large part because when I’m working on new music I tend to listen to the rough mixes over and over and over again, making adjustments, making new mixdowns, lather, rinse, repeat. But still… I listen to myself a lot. The rest of the list… yeah… those are the bands I thought I’d listened to the most, although I’m a bit surprised Genesis is so high up there.

Last 3 Months

Scrobbles - 3 months

And The Beatles take the lead! Not entirely surprising, given the intense interest generated by the new boxed set. I’ve listened to Beatles tracks 757 times in the past 3 months, but had only listened to them 17 times in the 9 months prior. The boxed set came out two months ago.

Then, of course, there’s good ol’ #14: Bobby (Boris) Pickett. The one-hit wonder who produced “Monster Mash” and an album full of other songs that all sound exactly like “Monster Mash.” I picked up that album for Halloween. I’m pretty sure all 48 of those scrobbles are from a 48-hour time period. No, I didn’t listen to a song an hour.

Also surprising on this list is #17: The Most Serene Republic. Surprising mainly because I had forgotten I even owned anything by them. This is one of the biggest downsides for me about digitally distributed music: it’s incredibly easy to acquire, and even easier to forget. I’m just lucky I haven’t accidentally double-purchased music this way. (That is, I assume I haven’t.)

And the last one worth noting: #20: Vince Guaraldi. The only album I have by him is A Charlie Brown Christmas. Is it too early?

Last 7 Days

Scrobbles - 7 days

It’s a shorter list, because apparently I’ve only listened to 17 different artists in the past week. And now, a realization, or more accurately, a recollection: scrobbles TV shows watched in iTunes or on the iPod/iPhone just like it scrobbles music. Hence The Venture Bros. tied for 15th place.

I’ve been on a Yes kick this week. I have not, however, been on a The Cars, Gordon Lightfoot, Seals & Crofts, or Christopher Cross kick. I did purchase those EPs today, but I haven’t even listened to each of them once. The scrobbles lie! iTunes was running all afternoon and early evening, but my speakers were turned off, and for much of that time I wasn’t even in the house.


Yes, there is a point! Internet log data does not equal the truth. Just because says I listened to this music, that doesn’t mean I listened to this music. What it really says is that my computer was turned on, iTunes was running, and it was processing these MP3s. Sending the music to speakers that weren’t turned on, for the benefit of ears that weren’t even in the room.

And if logs can be wrong about this, what else might they be wrong about?

XBOX 360 Sandbox

My gamer avatarI’ve added a new page to the Curiosities section of this site: XBOX 360 Sandbox. It’s a place for me to play around with the online capabilities of XBOX Live, such as displaying my gamer avatar (created on my XBOX and instantly updated online) on my own web pages; or my “gamercard” which shows how awesome (or not) I am calculated to be within the XBOX Live community (hint: I am not) along with icons of the games I’ve most recently played.

It fits with the exhibitionist nature of things like scrobbling, Twitter and all of the other online tools that have emerged lately to allow you to spew irrelevant nuggets of your personal life onto teh interwebz for others to not care about.

Yes, I get it that no one really cares that I was playing Castle Crashers last night. But I still think it’s cool that these kinds of things are actually possible, and it helps me to leave a legacy of the fundamental irrelevance of much of my existence. Consider it a cautionary tale, told in widgets, icons and 140-characters-or-less.

I’m scrobbling

Last.fmWhat is scrobbling, you ask? Here’s your answer.

Now this probably seems like exactly the kind of privacy invasion that would make me totally paranoid, and you’re right. I’ve known about for years, but I’ve avoided it like the plague, mainly because I was afraid it was either a trick by the RIAA to collect data on music pirates (which I shouldn’t really worry about, because 99% of my music is legit, and I don’t use P2P networks) or it was spyware.

Well, OK, it is spyware in a sense, I suppose, but I realize now that it’s a bit different if you know you’re being spied on, and you have total control over what the spy can see.

Mainly, I have wanted for ages to have a way to automatically display on my website what music I’ve been listening to, and with’s scrobbling, and an RSS feed, it is now possible. So you will note that in the right column on all of my pages, in addition to my Twitter feed, I now also have “What I’m Listening To.” Dangling participles aside, it’s exactly what I had been hoping for.

I also have all of my recent (original) music up on, including free downloads. Check it out!

And finally, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge for WordPress, the excellent WordPress plugin I’m using for the feat of syndication you see on these pages. I futzed for an hour or so last night with various RSS feed plugins for WordPress, was disappointed with them all, and then I decided to just check and see if someone had written a plugin for this specific purpose. This plugin is fantastic — it does exactly what I wanted, and is a complete no-brainer to set up. Nice!