Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 29, 2016 8:07 AM

The Future Happens Very Slowly Then All At Once And Other Stories From The Digital Edge on CHOM FM

Every Monday morning at 7:10 am, I am a guest contributor on CHOM 97.7 FM radio broadcasting out of Montreal (home base). It's not a long segment - about 5 to 10 minutes every week - about everything that is happening in the world of technology and digital media. The good folks at CHOM 97.7 FM are posting these segments weekly to SoundCloud, if you're interested in hearing more of me blathering away. I'm really excited about this opportunity, because this is the radio station that I grew up on listening to, and it really is a fun treat to be invited to the Mornings Rock with Terry and Heather B. morning show. The segment is called, CTRL ALT Delete with Mitch Joel.

This week we discussed: 

  • My new favorite line from futurist and technology media pioneer Kevin Kelly: "The future happens very slowly and then all at once." Autonomous vehicles are here... and will only increase as we move toward 2020. It's going to change everything, and affect our infrastructure and businesses in a very dramatic way. We are not prepared. 
  • If you own an Apple iPhone or iPad, please do a software update immediately. What may seem like an innocuous update actually reads like a spy novel, when you start to read about why this update is here. Apparently, a bug was found by a human rights activist on his phone, who forwarded the issue to  researchers at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab. The hack can turn a phone into a veritable digital spy. It's capable of using the camera and microphone to track activity in the vicinity of the device, recording all messages and call calls, logging messages sent in mobile chat apps, and tracking movements. Making this crazier: "The Citizen Lab team attributed the attack software to a private seller of monitoring systems, NSO Group, an Israeli company that makes software for governments which can secretly target mobile phones and gather information. Tools such as that used in this case, a remote exploit for a current iPhone, cost as much as $1 million." Bond.  James Bond.
  • Back in 2014, Facebook acquired messaging app WhatsApp for around $20 billion. The two have been fairly separated since, and Facebook has continued to push their own Messenger app, which has grown significantly. Last week, WhatsApp announced some updates to its privacy policy, which begins to encourage users to share their account information with Facebook. WhatsApp will also begin rolling out ads to users and more. And, while none of your WhatsApp information will be shared on Facebook and the messages are end-to-end encrypted, do you think this will loosen over time as well? 
  • App of the week: Splitwise.

Take a listen right here...

By Mitch Joel


August 28, 2016 7:25 AM

Getting Scrappy With Nick Westergaard - This Week's Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast

Episode #529 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

Some people you just want to become friends with in this industry. I've had the pleasure of meeting thousands of professionals over the years. There are (sadly) a lot of fake folks running around. Nick Westergaard is one of those true friends. He's the real deal. That's who is. He really wants to be friends and help your business do better. There's nothing more endearing than someone who is that passionate. He's also a person who sticks to his words, and wants marketing to make the world a better place. Nick is a strategist, speaker, author and teacher. He runs a boutique firm called, Brand Driven Digital, and recently released a great book, Get Scrappy - Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He also runs an amazing event called, Social Brand Forum, in Iowa that I had the pleasure of speaking at last year. Enjoy the conversation... 

You can grab the latest episode of Six Pixels of Separation here (or feel free to subscribe via iTunes): Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast #529.

By Mitch Joel


August 27, 2016 6:45 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #323

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete Web Monitoring, Managing Bandwidth: Deploying QOS in Enterprise Networks and Lean Analytics), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist's Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person "must see".

Check out these six links that we're recommending to one another: 

  • Genetic Engineering Will Change Everything Forever - CRISPR - Kurzgesagt - In A Nutshell. "The YouTube channel Kurzgesagt - In a Nutshell is remarkable. It's Patreon-backed, full of fascinating, articulate videos that explain a concept clearly and succinctly. The videos are full of easter eggs and little jokes. That's half this link: a great educational resource. The other half is the topic, because in this video, they explain -- perhaps better than anyone has, IMHO -- what CRISPR is, and why a future - in which we can edit ourselves and our surroundings - is unthinkably different." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • The Man Whose Job It Is to Constantly Imagine the Total Collapse of Humanity in Order to Save It - Vice. "It's time for Burning Man. I'm not going this year; and this made me nostalgic. Depending on your point of view, it's either a gathering of enlightened artists and hedonists; or that time when tens of thousands of privileged Bay Area denizens play Pretend Natural Disaster. But whatever your take, Burning Man is hardship. It's given birth to many inventions, including the emergency relief organization, Burners Without Borders, and temporary housing like the Hexayurt. This Vice piece profiles one of the festival's alumni, Vinay Gupta, whose job is to literally walk around all day wondering what could go wrong. That's also another good description of the festival." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • From Tree to Shining Tree - Radiolab. "I've shared a link about the wood-wide-web (!) before, and this Radiolab podcast just reinforces how wild and mysterious this world is. It turns out that all those trees and plants in forests are connected by an underground network of micro-sized tubular fungus. This fungal system operates as a mechanism of information and resource exchange: where carbon, for instance, trees with surplus carbon 'give' to the network, and trees in need of carbon can be supplied that carbon from the fungal network. There appears to be a kind of intelligence in this as well, where 'decisions' about who is getting what is made by this fungal network. Crazy. I wonder, if you extrapolate out networked human existence 100 or 1,000 or maybe 1,000,000 years, maybe the endgame might be a kind of balanced organic system like this. Or, maybe the fungal and tree network is the evolution of a previous human-like society(!!)..." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • Life on a Möbius Strip: The Greatest Moth Story Ever Told, About the Unlikely Paths That Lead Us Back to Ourselves - Brain Pickings. "The infinite (or finite) universe, our messy lives and the lucky (and unlucky) coincidences that define our lives, you can read Janna Levin's piece, or watch/listen to her tell the story." (Hugh for Mitch). 
  • The Hype - And Hope - Of Artificial Intelligence - The New Yorker. "Computers are doing a lot of things faster, smarter (maybe better) than human beings. Soon, none of us will have work. They will be smarter than us. Soon, they will know and understand how we act (and react). They will be one step ahead of us. Don't believe me? Take a drive in an autonomous vehicle - like I did a few years back. One thing became very clear: the car is able to 'see' and 'react' way better than any human. How do I know? It was tracking stop signs so far out, that I could not see them with the human eye. It was tracking everything happening around the car (my neck doesn't turn in those directions). Still, we're not there yet. This may not be our destiny. Right now, we're not even close. Talk about artificial intelligence and machine learning all you like. The truth is this: computers are just know able to pick up patterns, but they're doing it faster and faster (and faster than humans). So, it's far from being a done deal, but it's coming along." (Mitch for Alistair).  
  • Blogging gave us everything we love -- and hate -- about the Web - The Washington Post. "Well over ten years ago, I used to have lunch with Julien Smith (now the Breather brainchild) and Hugh on a regular basis. We talked, laughed and debated the state of digital. Blogging, podcasting, publishing, connecting and technology was the consistent topic over sushi or sandwiches. None of us (and our content) were credible to the media, at this point. Now, the media is us. Everything we discussed came to pass. This article articulates it perfectly." (Mitch for Hugh).

Feel free to share these links and add your picks on Twitter, Facebook, in the comments below or wherever you play.

By Mitch Joel


August 26, 201611:15 PM

Advertising. Full Steam Ahead.

"Advertising is dying. Advertising is dead. Advertising doesn't work."

A common theme. A common rant. It's fine to think that advertising doesn't work. It's fine to question it, in a world of spam, terrible infomercials, 30 second spots that are horrific, or by the amount of paper that gets popped on to our doorsteps to buy stuff on a daily basis. It is true that not every piece of advertising is a piece of art (in fact, the opposite). Still, the data does not lie.

Advertising growth is about to hit a record high.

That is fact-based. That is data. That is our reality. Today, MediaPost published the news item: U.S. Ad Growth To Hit Record $178 Billion...

"The U.S. advertising market is expected to grow at its fastest rate since 2010 - nearly 6%. Upgrading its earlier forecast, London-based advertising researcher Warc says U.S. ad spend will rise 5.8% to a record high of $178 billion - double the amount projected for the overall U.S. economy. A previous December forecast had estimated the U.S. ad market climbing 4.9% for 2016."

What are the factors at play here?

To put this number into perspective, the United States is the world's largest national economy in nominal terms, and second largest according to purchasing power parity. It represents over 20% of nominal global GDP and 17% of gross world product. The United States' GDP was estimated to be just under $18 trillion as of Q2 2015. In short, $178 billion is a huge part of the economy, not to mention how much advertising dollars plays into actual purchases. Meaning, imagine what the GDP would look like if the advertising dollars were not there, plus its ability to drive actual sales. The numbers would be horrific. In short: advertising has a significant role in our economy (whether you like ads or not). Many might take exception to making the correlation between advertising spend and its efficacy. That's a fair debate, but I would argue that at this scale, it has to work. If it did not provide factual business results, it would not be growing at scale. It would remain stagnant or it would be shrinking as the years wane on. That being said, the growth could be fear-based. There may be a business sentiment that tough times are around the corner, so spending now and grabbing market share is the right strategy to ensure a tougher future. Others might argue, that if trouble is around the corner, a business might hold back or reduce ad spend to save those chestnuts through the tougher winter. The other two (and very important factors) that are driving this year's growth were the Olympics and the Presidential campaign.

And, how is digital advertising doing?

From the article: "U.S. digital media spending will grow at over double the rate of TV - 13.7%. Overall, Warc says digital media will achieve near the same dollar value of the TV ad market this year - and rising above TV next year." These are the moments that I could only have dreamt about twenty years ago. In 1999, I would sit, stare and wonder at my computer screen if these little banners and search-triggered ads would ever amount into anything. TV was so dominant. And, here we are. If you think about the advertising landscape, it's hard not to be amazed at the many ways advertising has changed in such a short while. From email and search to display and native, it's amazing. The analytics, optimization and general marketing tech landscape is almost impossible to track. A new generation of startups, the evolution of traditional firms and the invention of new jobs, responsibilities and opportunities. Young people are eager to enter into this industry.

Advertising is alive and well and... growing...

By Mitch Joel


August 24, 201611:55 PM

Breaking Through The Blockchain

Many people ask "what's next" for technology? Whatever happens next, the blockchain will be a part of it.

It's not the easiest of technologies to understand. I still find myself daydreaming about what the blockchain is, and what the implications will be for business. I have a handful of close friends who are betting big on it (startups infused with a lot of external capital). Still, what totally gets me going is the fact that Don Tapscott is all over it. I've been a fan of his thinking, writing and speaking for a long time. When we toss around the words "digital economy," it was Don who coined this phrase over twenty years ago. My sentiment and attention to the blockchain keeps amping up, because this is how I felt when the first web browser was available. It seemed to change everything, but it was hard to define and harder to imagine the way that it was going to change business forever. Don and his son, Alex Tapscott, recently published a book titled, Blockchain Revolution - How The Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, And The World. Don presented his thinking on blockchain at the most recent TED event (TED Summit). It's a great explanation about blockchain in under twenty minutes. If that tempts you, please check out my more in-depth conversation with both Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott right here: Blockchain Revolution With Alex And Don Tapscott - Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast - #512).

Watch this: Don Tapscott - How the blockchain is changing money and business - TED Summit 2016.

By Mitch Joel


August 22, 2016 8:35 AM

Your Face Has Been Hacked (Sorry) And Other Stories From The Digital Edge on CHOM FM

Every Monday morning at 7:10 am, I am a guest contributor on CHOM 97.7 FM radio broadcasting out of Montreal (home base). It's not a long segment - about 5 to 10 minutes every week - about everything that is... Read more

By Mitch Joel


August 21, 2016 7:25 AM

Keeping Social Media Fresh With Jason Keath - This Week's Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast

Episode #528 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. This past week was a tough one for me, and owe Jason Keath a huge apology. I was supposed... Read more

By Mitch Joel


August 20, 2016 6:06 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #322

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see? My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete... Read more

By Mitch Joel


August 19, 2016 6:07 PM

The Greatest Glory. The Internet.

The philosophical debate of our lifetime: is the Internet the greatest thing we have ever created or a disaster for humanity? Who better to answer his question than Werner Herzog? Considered one of the greatest figures in New German Cinema,... Read more

By Mitch Joel


August 18, 201611:48 PM

I Got You vs. I Keep You - The Mobile Brand Crisis

Brands are going to confront a huge challenge as their consumers become more and more mobile. In the past, I have written about the massive chasm that is developing between consumers and brands, as our consumers become more mobile and... Read more

By Mitch Joel