The image processing application Adobe Lightroom is a metadata driven system, managing large amounts of content, like we do. Similar to Roon in some ways, it has some tagging features that I have previously considered irrelevant for us, but with more experience with Roon I now think we can learn from them.
One feature is quick and simple color tagging of pictures. The colors have no inherent meaning, they are just like colored stickers you might put on papers. You can tag pictures with a color very easily, and filter your display quickly and easily. This is aimed at workflow: you are processing one or many pictures, “developing” them, preparing them for print or online publishing. I often use colors for setting up a temporary grouping: I look at a lot of pictures from an project, I’m going to publish a dozen in some form, I set the “star filter” to minimum 4 stars and get 100 best pics, I scan them and mark 25 that are candidates for this publication with blue, and then I filter the browser by blue and do the book layout, curating them down to 12 based on how they look in context. It’s very useful, because of the one-click/one-keystroke methods, and precisely because the colors do not have a meaning. It’s different from the star rating, which has a meaning: being a candidate for inclusion in this publishing context does not say anything about the rating. And the rating is long-lived, the color flags are temporary.
“Workflow” seems different from just enjoying music. But there are many times when I want to temporarily mark some albums: listen to these recommendations from Sally, candidates for inclusion in a party playlist for later curation, albums I want to copy to a mobile device, stuff I want to recommend to a friend. Tags work, but the color flags are quicker. It’s a UI difference, the tag mechanism would work as the implementation.
Lightroom also has a very quick and convenient keywording user interface. Keywords are persistent, like our tags and unlike color flags. But the user interface is simplified, and the keywords are supported by their “funnel filter” equivalent.
We shouldn’t copy all of Lightroom, it is a complex product aimed at professionals and serious amateurs, and it’s a “producing” system, not “consuming”. But as I show above, some of its features seem relevant, as we learn more about the usage of Roon.