Apple, ITunes Should Join the Tagged Wide Web

Far be it from me to give advice to Apple’s Steve Jobs. In a few short years he’s managed to make Bill Gates his Salieri and Michael Eisner look like the Hunchback of Notre Dumb. I bought a PowerBook last year just to be safe, lest I die and find out heaven runs on Linux. With all the natural disasters lately I had assumed God was a Windows user and Katrina was merely the result of a hard reboot, but you can’t be too sure about these things.

Nevertheless, I have an idea for Jobs’ ITunes service. ITunes should allow users to tag music, podcast and video content.

Yes, you can search via keyword, but the results tend toward the rigid and general. And besides, one person’s hip-hop is another’s “dance music.” Music, more than any other form of expression, is emotional and personal, so it makes sense for people to categorize music based on their feelings.

Tags create an “evocative view” of content. For some, a press release on health care should be tagged “healthcare.” For others the tag might be “press release,” or “PR,” or “financial disclosure.” Content online is what people say it is, and that varies from person to person.

So why not search for music on ITunes based on things like mood or politics rather than genre? I could tag Bruce Springsteen’s “Devil’s and Dust” as “anti-war,” U2’s “Vertigo” as a “party” song, or anything by Morrissey as “thoroughly depressing.” Sure, there are dangers – I could also tag Ashlee Simpson tunes as “must have.” Reward is not without risk.

Of course this will never fly in Cupertino. Jobs is too much of a control freak to allow users that much freedom on a site that churns 1.2 million music downloads a day and just sold more than 1 million videos in little more than a fortnight. Jobs refuses to eat cereal for breakfast because he can’t control the snap, crackle and pop. I’m still shocked he allowed the Ipod Shuffle to go to market.

That’s okay, Steve. Tell you what, just go ahead and renew the Pixar-Disney deal, and I promise to use my Disney stock gains in the ITunes store. Oh, and a VIP seat in Linux heaven would be great, too.

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