Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
November 30, 2015 8:35 AM

Secure Your Social Media Spaces Before Someone Does It For You

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:

  • Lessons in social media: even if you don't know, like or will use an existing or new platform (be it Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook or whatever), it's always a good idea to "protect yourself" by signing up to it, and grabbing your own name there. A local news celebrity had an impersonator on Twitter (and, they didn't know because they're not on the platform). Now, they have to sign up and deal with trying to get this nefarious individual shut down. The best solution? Secure your name.
  • Not sure what to get someone into tech this holiday season without breaking the budget? Why not get them a computer? I know, I know, I did use the word "budget." Well, what if I told you that the latest iteration of the Raspberry Pi computer was recently released. It's called Raspberry Pi Zero, and it's only $5. Not a typo. A $5 computer. The perfect gift if you ever thought of getting into programming, or if you have a young person in the house that you want to get into programming. Happy hacking! 
  • How do you like your wi-fi? You may soon be dumping it, if li-fi can truly deliver. Li-Fi transmits data using LED lights, which flicker on and off within nanoseconds, imperceptible to the human eye. It was invented in 2011. In the lab, li-fi has been able to reach a mind-blowing speed that is 100x faster than the fastest wi-fi. Unlike Wi-Fi signals which can penetrate walls, Li-Fi is based on light and can't, so its range is more limited. However, because of that limit, Li-Fi is also potentially more secure from external sniffing. Pretty interesting development. 
  • App of the week: check out Terry DiMonte's new online show - The Terry DiMonte Show.

Listen here...

By Mitch Joel


November 29, 2015 8:09 AM

What Communications Should Do

Episode #490 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

It's hard not be impressed with the work and thinking of Josh Bernoff. For over twenty years, Josh was a key player at Forrester Research, where he wrote about, edited papers and studied companies involved in the future of technology. His work there was a key destination to better understand the players, what they were doing, and how this would affect business. His work for hugely important... and continues to be. At Forrester, Josh co-authored the famed business bestseller, Groundswell, with Charlene Li (as well as co-authoring the books, The Mobile Mindshift and Empowered). Now, he's blogging with a frenetic and awesome pace over at Without Bullshit (and working on the book, Writing Without Bullshit, which will be in stores next year. His main idea? Communicate smarter and better... without the BS. 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 #490.

By Mitch Joel


November 28, 2015 7:35 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #284

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: 

  • The Four Horsemen of Gentrification - Timothy McSweeney's. "Read this one while you're sipping single-tree coffee in your uncomfortable corduroys. So tight, it pinches a bit... maybe that's just my snark talking." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Who Knows What About Me? A Survey of Behind the Scenes Personal Data Sharing to Third Parties by Mobile Apps - Jots. "Tinfoil hat time. In this test of 110 popular apps, 73% shared personal data, many without OS approval. Plenty of good data to keep you up at night; but we already knew you didn't sleep enough." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • What Can A Technologist Do About Climate Change? - Worry Dream. "With the Paris Climate talks imminent, Obama's end-of-term enthusiasm for getting controversial stuff done that he couldn't get done for the past 7 years; with Canada's new climate-friendly Prime Minister; with Australia's new (at least formerly) climate friendly PM, we may now be closer to real action than we have been in long while. Still, it's hard not to despair a little at the scale of the problem. Here is Bret Victor (the designer of the prototypes for the iPad, and collaborator with Al Gore on his climate book, Our Choice), outlining what we - in the tech community - can start doing to deal about climate change, what he calls (and I would agree) 'the problem of our time'." (Hugh for Alistair).
  • Finland's depression is the final indictment of Europe's monetary union - The Telegraph. "This is fascinating stuff, which shows pretty clearly some major problems at the heart of the European project, and particularly the European Monetary Union. The narrative in the media, politicians and 'policy experts' about Greece was something like this: Greeks are lazy, they don't pay taxes, they are fiscally irresponsible and spend too much on social programs, etc. And the solution, prescribed on pain of death by their creditors was: raise taxes, cut government spending and sell off state assets. The results were a catastrophe (25% drop in GDP), but no matter... the good doctors prescribed more. But, there was always the sense that the 'Greeks brought this on themselves.' Well, if you wanted to find a model of a good modern economy, then Finland would be it: they have the highest education scores in the world, the most productive economy, low debt levels, and their government is a model of fiscal prudence. And yet, since 2008 their GDP has collapsed, losing 6.5%. Now, the two things that happened to Finland during this time: oil prices crashed, and Nokia (a major economic powerhouse), also has gone into a nosedive. But their GDP has just been blasted. There is a usual solution for these kinds of problems, you let your currency slide down. This makes your products relatively cheaper on international markets, and makes international sales more valuable when other currencies come in. Note, Finland's case is eerily like Canada's: oil price tanks coupled with the destruction of Blackberry as a major force. Canada's currency has dropped 30% compared to the USD, which makes our economy more competitive. Our economy hasn't been lighting the world on fire for growth, but we've seen nothing like the contraction Finland has seen. Finland, tied to the Euro, don't have a currency whose exchange rate can drop to their advantage. So, they are in trouble. And so, it would seem, is the Euro." (Hugh for Mitch).    
  • How Pressbooks Public Will Help Self-Pub Authors Get E-Books into Libraries - Mediashift. "Our fellow link exchange buddy, Hugh McGuire, gets the spotlight in this article about his company, Pressbooks. In this article, Hugh is described as a 'change leader.' And, it's all true. He's doing some amazing work that deserves more attention and recognition. How do you get indie and self-published authors' ebooks into libraries? Well, read on. Oh, and it's not just about libraries, but the future of publishing..." (Mitch for Alistair).
  • The Secret Power of 'Read It Later' Apps - Forte Labs. "Reading is everything. The problem is, of course, the quality of what we read, and our ability to retain and implement that information. This is where my concern lies. This is why, I do my very best to spend time with words. Lots of words. Not the Twitter tweets, but books... and long form content. So, where does all of this digital reading happen? For me, it happens with Pocket. Without a doubt, the one app that I can't live without. So, just what is the secret power of these 'read it later' apps? For me, they are the secret to success. Not joking." (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


November 27, 201511:17 PM

Apps Are Media

This might take some time for brands to wrap their heads around.

"Content is media." This may feel like a turn of phrase, at this point. We have seen such a proliferation of content that the vast majority of brand created (and brand sponsored) content isn't much more that an ad vaguely disguised as content (a wolf in sheep's clothing, as it were). But, when I started writing about this idea that content is media (around 2004), it was taken with a massive dose of skepticism. Many industry luminaries thought it was way off. Advertising was paid placement, while content was the stuff that had to be earned. Their reasoning was quite simple: blogging is a powerful publishing platform, but most brands won't take to it, and the value may not be there in a world of GRPs and massive paid advertising channels. Social media changed a lot of things. The early days (and success) of Facebook - as it broke free from the college crowd - was a massive indicator of what was to come for brands, building direct relationships with consumers, and the power of creating something more than a call-to-action in a space where real people were building real connections. While Facebook's revenue from brands proved staggeringly impressive, it came at a cost. Facebook would no longer allow brands to connect with everyone who liked a brand page, they would now make brands pay to reach them. The logic (simplified) was two-fold:

  1. Facebook could turn a much more impressive profit (good for Facebook). 
  2. Brands may spend more time thinking about what they're creating, instead of flooding the feeds with nonsense that might turn off people from the platform (good for users). 

As a business, Facebook made a shrewd move, and a profitable one. It also further validated that content is media.

Now, this is commonplace. Native advertising, brands building their own YouTube channels, and more. Content is media. With that, advertising still thrives. There is a new duality to marketing that brands are still adjusting to. It's amazing to see brands create a compelling piece of video content, post it to YouTube and then allocate advertising dollars to that video, in the hopes that consumers will see it, and then shop the brand. If you think about that for a second, it's staggering. Brands have - literally - added in a very complex and costly media component to an otherwise simple advertising structure. They're doing so much more than "watch this ad, remember us, and buy our stuff." 

Why apps are the new media.

There is no denying that mobile devices have become the consumer's primary screen (as the PC has been relegated to an accessory device). We have all seen the stats on mobile traffic, mobile advertising, and where consumer's time is now spent. The hottest platforms now (Snapchat, Instagram, etc...) are all mobile-first (meaning, the experience is fundamentally better on a mobile device than on the Web browser). Plus, these hottest platforms of the day were developed for mobile first (another huge, fascinating and powerful change). Marketing is a game of real estate (a topic I dug deep into while writing my second business book, CTRL ALT Delete, which was published in 2013). So, where is the real estate now? The home screen of our smartphones and tablets. For consumers, it's becoming less about search and social media and much more about their apps. Especially the messaging apps (more on that here: The Many Ways Of WeChat: How Messaging Is Eating The World). Messaging apps are going to shift the attention away from social media, as apps within these apps will thrive (think about being able to grab an Uber or buy on Amazon in your messaging app). With that, brands are going to have to get better at creating engaging and utilitarian programs that thrive in a world where apps dominate over the Web browser, a search box and social media.

Brands are (not yet) up for this challenge.

Consumers have shifted. The "buy button" continues to be uncoupled from e-commerce sites, and is becoming embedded into everything from social media to messaging apps. Brands are still fumbling through responsive design initiatives, instead of building that mobile-first infrastructure, while everyone grapples to understand what advertising should really be on these smartphone and tablet screens (hint: display advertising is not the answer). So... and once again... here we are. Brands are faced with this challenge. One, where content is not just media, but the app is media as well. A huge opportunity has unfolded for brands.

Now, I am left wondering if you have any examples of brands who are getting this... and pushing things forward?

By Mitch Joel


November 26, 201511:00 PM

Why The Newspaper Business?

There was some news in the media about my future yesterday.

Let me start off with this: I am not leaving Mirum (formerly Twist Image). I will not be putting less time into Mirum (in fact, I've been working harder and harder at it). I will not stop blogging, podcasting, speaking, writing books, and publishing articles. I won't even slow down the sarcasm on Twitter or Facebook. I will (hopefully) be adding in another - very important - responsibility to my professional portfolio (pending shareholder approval). It's a big one. It's a big change for me. It's something that requires attention. I have been nominated to become a board member for Postmedia.

What is Postmedia?

It's a large media and publishing company that owns The National Post and many local newspapers (Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun and others), they also recently acquired Sun Media, and have their hands in many others businesses in the media, publishing and technology space (200 brands). It's a big and powerful media company, here in Canada. And - as you can see by a simple Google search - has a fair amount of challenges (and opportunities). if you've been following my work for any semblance of time, you know why this is so important to me. I started off in journalism, I published magazines, I have written and contributed to many publications over the past two decades and - ultimately - I believe in the importance of these news institutions, and how they serve the public, while still being pragmatic that they are a business and responsible for both returning revenues and innovating, as the customer has so many more media outlets to choose from.

Change is hard. Change is possible.

This won't be an easy task. My main role (should I get nominated) is to provide guidance and leadership in the space of how they can best transform their business, as customer's primary news gathering preferences have shifted. How can digital marketing best serve the businesses needs (and how well they're doing this through analytics, their advertising offering, etc...)? Where can they improve on their marketing innovation? How can they improve on the myriad of transactions they have with their customers? And - of course - the quality of the products and services. My desire to take this on comes from a very simple and honest place: quality journalism is still key to a modern society, and an important (though often overlooked) component of how information gets distributed. Yes, you can get information a lot faster in a world where everyone can lifestream our world in text, images, audio and video in social media, but that doesn't mean that we're able to understand the real issues. Who will help us look at the data and opinions beneath these stories, and help to provide a broader perspective on the issues that are shaping our lives? Companies like Postmedia provide this service. It's an important service, and one that I think I can add my particular skill set towards.

An insider from the outside.

I have not been shy about newspapers and traditional media spaces in the past. That won't change. I have been critical of the business model, what comes as we move from paper to screens to whatever comes next... and much more. I love reading the paper (yes, the physical one... anyone who has met me on a plane knows this). I love the new business models that many of these traditional institutions are evolving towards. More than anything, I am curious. Curious about what Postmedia can (and should) look like going forward, and how disruption (from within and from new comers) is going to change the face of news, journalism, publishing and media.

New adventures.... it's always exciting.

By Mitch Joel


November 24, 201511:38 PM

Facebook Is A Reflection Of You

Feel free to discuss politics, sex, religion and more on Facebook. Free will. It's a powerful thing. Just don't be mad at Facebook for all of this negative commentary and imagery that is in your feed. The content that you... Read more

By Mitch Joel


November 23, 2015 8:17 AM

Are Hackers Our New Heroes?

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


November 22, 2015 8:53 AM

Extraordinary Brand Experiences

Episode #489 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. How many brands truly deliver extraordinary experiences? Not the kind of rare stories you read about on Mashable, but... Read more

By Mitch Joel


November 21, 2015 7:15 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #283

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


November 20, 201511:52 PM

The Culture Of Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is an anomaly. I know this first hand. Not because I know him personally (although, we have met many times). Not because I know anything behind the scenes (although we do share the same book publisher). I know... Read more

By Mitch Joel