The Amazon knows me

The Amazon knows me. She understands me, because she send me all these wonderful gifts wrapped i brown recycled cardboard: books, CDs and DVD boxes.

She has a perfect understanding of my taste.

She knows that I listen to electronica, and not to folk rock. She knows that I read a lot of science fiction. She knows everything about American high quality cable TV and even managed to send me the DVD boxes of the British TV series Life on Mars I like so much.

It must be love.

My wife is not jealous, though. She laughs and says that it is no wonder that the Amazon sends me all these gifts. I have, after all, given her my credit card information. She can be so cynical, my wife.

An experiment in online pop music marketing

For several years my wife Susanne and I was part of a project aimed at producing pop music albums. During the final phases of its last incarnation — called Sandstone — we developed a strategy for promoting the music online. The ultimate object: to create enough buzz online to make the record companies interested.

The strategy had four parts:

1. “Seed” the web with a few MP3 files containing the music.
2. Develop a web site.
3. Establish a presence at MySpace and make use of relevant forums and social networks to make the music known.
4. Start pushing creative merchandise, videos and other “viral” ideas.

We got as far as number 2 before some of the participants decided to give the word “partnership” until then new and unknown meanings. It went downhill from there, and in October last year the project was cancelled.

We did obviously not follow up on our strategy, and it is therefore hard to determine if it could have succeeded or not. This year, however, we did at least see results from phase 1 of the strategy.

On the 17th of May 2006 we published an article in our site Pandia about the Russian online MP3 store AllofMP3. This is where we decided to sow the first “seed”. At the end of the article we put in the following text:

Free MP3 file from Pandia

Given that you have read through the whole article, we think you deserve a reward.

Click on the link below to download a brand new MP3 file by the Norwegian pop/electronica project Sandstone.

And yes, it is definitely legal, as we own the copyright.

Listen to Sandstone: The City that Never Was (Free MP3 file, 3 MB, right click to download)

There were a few hundred downloads, but nothing much happened after that, and given that the project was canceled we did not give it much thought.

During a review of our Pandia web statistics in April this year, however, we discovered that there had been more than 12000 downloads since January, and that there were several thousands downloads every week!

After half a year the tactic started to pay off! There are now thousands of Sandstone files out there, listened to by a large number of people. God knows what we could have managed to do if we could have followed up on our plan.

Alas, that is not to be. As soon as we discovered what was happening we had to remove the file from our server, as the copyright to the music does not belong to us.

The lyrics are available, however, and I am now starting a new campaign trying to identify composers looking for lyrics. Click here for the lyrics to The City that Never Was.

See also Wired on the use of MySpace in music promotion.

The City that Never Was

Walking through the shadows
I fell upon a magic place
The ruins of a city
Lost in weeds and misty haze
Rubble, dust and gravel
Dwellings from another time
I swear I’d never been there
But then again, it could be mine

I found a buried playground
Hopscotch churches lost in grime
With fragments of mosaics
Of children in the summertime
And then a faded fresco
Men and women playing games
They seemed content and happy
But damned, I could not read their names

This is the city that never was
This is the past that could have been
This is the city that never was
Say a prayer and leave this dream

I love this silent beauty
The shadows of the aging trees
The broken walls and columns
Bring a mournful sense of peace
But it’s dangerous to stay here
Bewitched by longing, caught in dreams
I have to leave this city
And build a new one in the green

The City that Never Was

This is a lyric looking for a song. Do get in touch if you need it.

Illustration: Susanne Koch

Manhattan early spring

In April Susanne and I went to New York for the Search Engine Strategies conference. We have followed the search engine scene for eight years now through Pandia, our site for internet searching and search engine marketing.

Many Americans tell us they find New York City a hectic, busy and unfriendly place. It probably says a lot about our won lifestyle that we feel right at home.

But it is not the noise that brings us back, but rather the amazingly colorful mix of people and cultures. The US may not be a melting pot, but what a wonderful salad the Americans serve!

Susanne has mixed a short video based on snapshots taken in the streets of New York.

You’ll find more pictures in our online .mac photo album.

See also our Pandia New York Search Engine Strategies conference coverage.

Claiming a post at Technorati

I am not really expecting a lot of visitors to this blog. As long as our two cats keep track of these posts I am happy.

However, Timian and Basilikum are using Technorati to follow the blog scene. And in order to get your blog listed in Technorati you need to claim it. One way of doing that is to include a link to your Technorati Profile in a blog post.

What is Technorati, you ask. Well, it is one of the more successful attempts at mapping the blog scene online. It definitely has its part of blog spam (i.e. artificial blogs — or splogs — set up to lure visitors into clicking on ads), but it still works as a good blog search engine.

By all means try it out.

Tor Johnsen’s 17th of May

One personal that definitely has embraced the nature of the Web is our good friend Tor Johnsen.

Last autumn he started the blog Enjoy Food and Travel, which now boasts some 500 posts on — well, yes — food and travel.

These contains musings, reviews and recipes that will warm the hearts of anyone who loves life. Those of us who knows him personally, however, may also read about the meals we have been served after the party.

We celebrated the Norwegian national holiday with him, and this is what we got! Great stuff…

(By the way, Tor may also blog about the meals we serve him!)

Personalized home pages

My wife Susanne has written a review of personalized home pages over at Pandia, and has come to the conclusion that Netvibes is the best.

Personally I haven’t had time to test them all, but definitely see the need for a personal home page where I can gather most of the online resources I use daily.

For my search engine related activities I use Google Reader at the moment. The search engine news and blog community is very Internet savvy and all of them have RSS feeds. This means that I can cover the headlines from a large number of sites without visiting each and every one of them.

Unfortunately the research and innovation policy community is not equally up to date with modern technology, and as far as I can see, there are close to no blogs (or RSS feeds) in this area. (One notable exception is my old research colleague Ian Miles at the University of Manchester.)

This means that using an RSS reader for covering the research in research and innovation scene definitely is overkill.

By the way, Susanne has also written a presentation of the Top 5 online RSS readers.

Summer of 2006

My wife Susanne has made a slide show of pictures from our holiday in Spain last year and uploaded it to her own Vox blog.

Catalonia is a great place for experiencing art, food and Catalan culture. However, if you want to combine such experiences with a beach holiday, stay away from Lloret del Mar and most of the other concrete tourist traps found along the coast. Some of them are veeeery ugly.

“Our” town, however, Tossa de Mar, has kept many of its original buildings, and remains a beautiful fisherman’s village. There is even an old medieval city centre.

We have also a photo collection from Tossa online.

Welcome to PK at aviana.com

Aviana.com has now been up and running since 1998, which in Internet terms is an eternity.

Together with my wife, Susanne, I have been publishing search engine news over at Pandia since 1999, and is no stranger to blogging.

Still, I have never had my own personal blog, but here it is.

I am going to use Aviana PK for publishing thoughts and ideas that do not fit into the framework of Pandia. Topics that will be covered are research and innovation policy, science, music, the history of ideas and whatever I am working on at the time.

I — i.e. Per Koch — am currently working as Director of Analysis and Strategy Development at the Research Council of Norway.

I have been actively involved in Norwegian (and European) research and innovation policy development since 1990, having worked in what was then the Norwegian Ministry of Education, Research and Church Affairs, the research institute STEP (later NIFU STEP) and now the RCN.

I have a background from the History of Ideas and is interested in everything that covers human creativity and innovation.

For more personal information, see my home page.