Thursday, January 31, 2008

HitTail, the long tail of natural search

For some time now I have been using the HitTail keyword long tail search service. HitTail works on the principle that it is the long tail of infrequent natural search hits that can be built upon to build traffic. This video by the developer explains how it works. I have found it to be a most useful tool in helping to understand just what my readers were looking for.

Do you like nostalgia? The Superimposers are a Beatles/Beach Boys duo featured today on Chalky's Terrible Love Songs. "The Superimposers are Dan Warden and Miles Copeland, a London based duo (not American as I originally thought). If you haven't heard The Superimposers before, I'd describe them as The Beach Boys meets The Beatles meets Air meets something in 1950's America-there are a lot of other hints and flavours in their songs but I can't quite put my finger on them yet... worth a listen." says Chalky.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

To be or not to be...symmetrical or asymmetrical

Symmetry or asymmetry? When I saw these two books together I was intrigued by the juxtaposition of titles. The one book says that we exist because of asymmetry while the other says that the beauty of symmetry shapes the world. You pays your money and takes your choice. Could it be that Newton found the symmetry and quantum mechanics the asymmetry? I have just started reading both books, by Frank Close and Nobel Laureate Christopher T. Hill, so I'm not yet ready to give an opinion but I'm somehow fascinated by the possibility that they are both right. Here we go down the rabbit hole with Alice. It's like that in music too. Harmony and disharmony together in a dance. I'm listening to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" as I'm writing this. Is it not the interplay of opposites that makes the whole dance possible? Thesis, antithesis and synthesis and...
Don't think I'm gonna sort this out tonight so I'll just listen to Diana Krall and Tony Bennett. They have the world on a string.

A last word from William Blake perhaps:
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Leonard Cohen miracle worth waiting for

This year the maestro will be on tour. Thanks to Terrible Love Songs for this great news. Apparently he is heading for Europe in the summer. Leonard Cohen Forum The first Cohen album I bought was Songs From A Room and that was A Long Time Ago. Leonard Cohen is my favourite musical poet. For me his music is timeless and unique. Now that Oscar Peterson is gone he must surely take the crown as Canada's national treasure?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Talking Teddy Afro with Ethiopian friends

This evening I had supper with some friends from Ethiopia. The food was simple Italian and we drank of course good Ethiopian coffee and the mood was convivial. We spoke of the politics and culture of the country, but mostly we spoke of food and music. The track below and in the sidebar was the one my friends spoke of most. I am a big fan of Ethiopian music though the language barrier means I don't know much about it. Thanks to my friends, though, I'm picking up some tips that I can share with my readers. Sometimes we need to get into another cultural orbit to experience new ideas and to appreciate things from a different perspective. Today I also made another nice discovery thanks to a comment left on Chocolate Covered Vegan by Lizzy of Trying Veganism. I found her interesting Street Art in Kreuzberg on Picasa, which got me thinking that maybe I should put together a nice album on Google's photo sharing platform. At present my pictures there are just a cluttered mess. Sometimes I think that, just as in life, we leave behind a trail of unfinished bits and pieces on the internet. Like all those unread books that one day we will get around to reading we have a blog here, a social network there, gathering virtual dust. Every day I postpone the inevitable upcoming internet spring clean. Does anyone else have a trail they left behind on the web that they feel is in need of a cleanup? I know I won't make a start today. The weather is too bad and I want to listen to some nice music.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Mr Scruff and why the internet is lovely

Finding something new is always exciting and for me finding exciting new music is always cool so I am grateful to Terrible Love Songs for helping me find Get A Move On as well as a lot of other cool stuff. I woke up the Amsterdam public library when I clicked on her blog and music blasted out of the MacBook but nobody noticed here on the fifth floor where most of the students sit. This is an amazing building and much more than a traditional library with lots of desktop internet terminals, and ongoing art exhibitions and events for both children and adults. In fact there are so many lovely distractions that I hardly get to read a book! It's no longer as quiet as in the picture, which was taken just after the opening.

I did manage to find a book to read, James Gleick's biography of Isaac Newton, without whom I would not be writing this now. Newton seems fitting reading, surrounded as we are with all of the technology whose very foundations lay in his ideas and contribution to science. Thanks to his laws we must keep on moving. The internet is indeed lovely! Would the world be a better or worse place if Newton had never lived? Joli weekend, mes amis!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pirates fight copyright's brave new world

Chalky (of Terrible Love Songs)and I were just commenting on synchronicity and once again I found myself looking back at another of my oldest Penguins, Huxley's Brave New World. Thanks to Josef's United Diversity I came across this Google video on the brave new world of copyright and patent law. (Below)
The subject is the connection between copyright, patent law and civil liberties. I know from the Navdanya seed saving project in India and the Monsanto terminator seed fiasco just how scary patents can be (in that particular case patenting the very seeds of life itself!) but this was the first time I was made aware of just how central copyright laws are to our basic freedoms. The Pirate Party is based in Sweden but is also part of a worldwide movement that wishes to reform copyright laws so that we all have the right to our privacy and to end the commercial exploitation of intellectual property rights to the detriment of the freedom of information.
"The fight against copyright aggression tends to focus on economic aspects of the shift to a networked economy. Rick explains how this conflict is much more important than that: the fight against the copyright regime is about the right to fundamental civil liberties - down to the postal secret, whistleblower protection, freedom of the press, and the very right to an identity. Rick Falkvinge is the founder and leader of the Swedish Pirate Party, as well as the founder of the international politicized pirate movement. His leadership and vision took the Pirate Party from nothing into the top ten parties in the last Swedish general election, without a dime in the campaign chest. His personal candidacy came in at rank #15 out of over 5,000 candidates for the 349 parliamentary seats." writes Josef on United Diversity. Watch this video if you value your liberty!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

La Nausée

This book was one of the very first paperbacks I ever bought. The Sartre classic seems these days to belong to another age. This is the 1965 Penguin Modern Classic with the Dali cover that was still being used in 1972 and I remember this seven year period of my life as being the time when the world changed forever. I was living in London at the time and had a French girlfriend who was also very much into Sartre and Chanel, a combination that was irresistible. As I said in another post on Cookie Mouse
"No book was ever more seminal in my development and as I return to it again over forty years later I realise what a profound effect Jean Paul Sartre had on both my thinking and my unconscious mind. Like an individual archetype he stands colossal in my memory and in my mind's eye. The English Penguin edition was my most prized possession and when I later learned French it became the paperback I used to pose with on the rive gauche. Avec Gaulloises, naturellement! It so impressed the first love of my life, Josette, that she asked me to a party in London and I got my first bottle of Chanel Pour homme for Christmas, 1968."
It amuses me to think that "la nausée" is the second most popular search keyword for my blog. Is Sartre still so popular or are a lot of French speakers not feeling very well at the moment?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Small is Beautiful...

Yet a another new title for this blog. The last one was the same as a web design company and could end up leading to confusion. Wanting to stay somewhere near Cookie mouse I googled Cookie book and the search result was promising. Only the other day I was thinking it is time to read a few books and when I saw a new comment on my Satre Penguin photo it made up my mind for me. So I'll be off to the bookstores more often in the near future to look for a good read. We all spend a lot of time online these days so it is perhaps a good idea to balance that out with something different. Books are old school IT and a very different way of thinking about and interacting with the world of ideas. So Cookie Book it is.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

DP Logo with slogans

DP Logo with slogans, originally uploaded by Chris Saad.

Scoble Facebook account disabled

Uberhacker Scoble has been chucked off Facebook. I picked this up on Mashable and nearly wet myself laughing. After all the old rascal is asking a fair question as to to who owns your social graph, you or FB? They offer us a free service and we offer them loads of free content and free information in return, but they don't seem to like it when someone tries to move their stuff elsewhere. All this happens just when I decided to add my sparkling new year mugshot (to your left) to my FB profile as I thought it looked shady enough for Zuikerberg's pot of gold. Ah well, nice one Scoble, and keep up the good work. Some of these issues are being adressed by a site well worth checking out. Somehow FB seems so last year these days, but the lemmings keep on signing up. I'd rather stick with blogging and work for myself, thanks. But first I need some coffee, fairtrade and organic as ever.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008 will be a very good year!

On the streets of Amsterdam the Champagne flows as 2008 comes in with a bang as usual. Manon turned up for our end of year dinner which was fantastic. It was very Italian. Peppers stuffed with goat's cheese and olives stuffed with peppers as antipasti followed by Bruschetta and onion soup and spaghetti pesto genovese (to celebrate Manon's new Italian base). Cosy as we were with our bubbly, pasta and espresso we had to check out the big Dutch New Year bang. And bang it did loud and clear. Our poor dog was terrified by all the loud noises. When I tried to take him out yesterday afternoon a banger went off just outside the door and so poor Freako ran terrified back upstairs and hid in the corner till it was all over. We went to the Nieuwmarkt, which was terribly crowded as always, and it all went boom, boom, boom! At midnight we celebrated with of all things cans of Heineken as we had run out of bubbly earlier on. One Welshman, one Italian and one Dutch girl in a crowd of happy and crazy revelers said cheers and welcomed in the new year. Some of the fireworks were so loud that you could feel the force of the explosion. Someone gave me a bottle of Luxembourg Cremant which was very tasty. The year started lucky and happy so I think that 2008 will be a very good year. I thought of taking my camera with me downtown but then decided not to under the crazy circumstances. After all, if a picture is a thousand words then a thousand words could make a picture. People with mobile phones were all taking loads of pictures anyway. I'd be curious to see what some of them turned out like in the dark and jolly chaos. Someone asked me if I had made a new year resolution. To be happy I replied and afterwards I thought of our dinner table chat the evening before. We talked about how young Dutch kids no longer know what to believe in a world overloaded with information and how to keep the nasty big picture at a distance and create your own world. I was as usual ranting on about the big picture and upon reflection found myself agreeing with the Dutch point of view. Holland is a peaceful country and we are lucky here to still enjoy tolerance and freedom. As one particularly loud bang went off and its shockwave hit me for a brief moment I counted myself lucky that it was just a firework. My resolution? To look for and tell the truth within my area of competence and to create that positive small world that my Dutch friend described. Have a wonderful 2008, people, and let the heart be with you!