Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
March 30, 2015 8:17 AM

Periscope Up

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:

  • The new, hot, buzz talk is all about live video streaming via Twitter. At first, Meerkat was all the rage (getting a lot of heat and attention post SXSW), now Twitter just launched Periscope (which they recently acquired in January for $100 million). Periscope allows you to broadcast whatever you're doing live, through video, with a couple of taps. Unlike Meerkat, Periscope can save streams so that you can replay them later. It turns out to be Periscope's killer feature -- and the main reason that it's likely to become my live-streaming platform of choice. Whoever wins, make no mistake about: live streaming video via Twitter (and social media) is "what's next."
  • Apple is making another run at TV. Rumours ran rampant last week that Apple was trying to create some kind of subscription Internet TV service that included all of the big players (and not just HBO Go, which was announced when they talked up the Apple Watch the other week). Now, it looks like a new Apple TV is going to be announced in June at their World Wide Developers Conference. By the sound of the rumours, this isn't just a simple update to what the current Apple TV box is, but a substantive redo. The idea is to create a new living room experience. Do you think Apple will deliver? 
  • App of the week: Nuzzle.

Listen here...

By Mitch Joel


March 29, 2015 8:28 AM

Into The Future

Episode #455 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

I have always been skeptical of individuals who proclaim themselves to be futurists. I often joke that I am a presentist. How far into the future can these people see? How far do they really look? Are they ever right? Recently, I was presenting at a private corporate event outside of San Diego, and Gerd Leonhard (the well-known futurist), was speaking after me. With a pending flight home, I could do little more than small talk with Gerd, but agreed to have a discussion about how he helps companies prepare for the inevitable. He is the co-author of The Future of Music, and the author of The End of Control, Music 2.0, Friction is Fiction, and The Future of Content. Gerd if the CEO of The Futures Agency. 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 #455.

By Mitch Joel


March 28, 2015 8:20 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #249

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:

  • Can Predictive Technology Make Us Less Predictable? - Forbes. "I'm worried about how machine optimization feeds us pablum, encouraging us all to take the path more trod. But, as this piece points out, machines can't choose what's unexpected unless they know what's expected -- and eliminate it." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Acid Machine. "If you made electronic music, you love the 303 and the 909. You may even have used Propellerhead's Rebirth tool, a software homage to Roland's classic music-making tool. Now there's a web version. Go make something!" (Alistair for Mitch). 
  • Large Hadron Collider Scientists Hope to Make Contact with Parallel Universe. - Second Nexus. "The number of sentences in this article that are mind-bending is... mind-bending. Here is one: 'We predict that gravity can leak into extra dimensions, and if it does, then miniature black holes can be produced at the LHC.'" (Hugh for Alistair).
  • Why Is Mason Reese Crying? - Wiretap. "The CBC radio show Wiretap, by Jonathan Goldstein, is one of the few remaining glimmers of hope on the once-great Canadian radio dial. How his show has survived CBC management is a total mystery. Here's a meditation on what YouTube says about us, fame and lost childhood." (Hugh for Mitch). 
  • How Super Angel Chris Sacca Made Billions, Burned Bridges And Crafted The Best Seed Portfolio Ever - Forbes. "If you play in the startup, tech, Silicon Valley space, then the name 'Chris Sacca' is a known entity. I had heard about him for years, but he was a shadow. I never saw him in the media. I didn't know what he looked like. I knew that he worked at Google, became friends with a lot of people and had early money in places like Twitter and Uber. Then, a few years back, I saw this episode of Kevin Rose's Foundation featuring Sacca. I've written about this story and thought about him quite a bit. I was really taken by his story and how he tells it. We actually wound up connecting after I wrote about him, and I liked him even more. It's funny, I am often asked what I think about a person. My standard answer is: they are super nice and kind... but keep in mind that I don't work with them or have to sleep with them..." (Mitch for Alistair).
  • What it's like to sell your startup for $120 million before it's even launched. - Business Insider. "Things happen in the business world, and I often wonder if we give pause to really reflect on what just happened. In the past few weeks, there is battle brewing of epic proportions (like the one we saw between MySpace and Facebook back in the day). It is for the live streaming of video content that can be shared (easily) in places like Twitter. The contenders are Meerkat (which came out of the gates strong and became all the buzz at SXSW this past year). And now, Twitter just launched Periscope. The thing about Periscope is that the app wasn't created by Twitter. It was actually bought by them in January of this past year for $100 million. Not a typo. Someone developed an app that wasn't even in-market that got scooped up by Twitter for over $100 million. That's something to stop and think about. We often dream of coming up with a million dollar idea. How does a one hundred million dollar idea sit with you? This is the story." (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


March 27, 2015 3:09 PM

The Digital Reality

Do you really think that Google Glass is a flop? I don't.

Google Glass did - and will do - what it was intended for. Now, before I go on, let me explain: Google probably hoped (assumed) that more and more would find these glasses cool, interesting and worth it to wear. From a fashion standpoint, it flopped. Without question. Still, it pushed a notion forward, and this notion was no different than the early cell phone manufacturers, who believed that individuals would walk around and talk on phones wherever they may be. We have a bad sense of history when it comes to these things, but it wasn't too long ago that someone talking on their phone in a restaurant was seen as being rude (or even when the phone rang). Now, when we see someone sitting alone and not talking on a phone or staring at a screen, we wonder if they're "normal." From that perspective, Google's thinking that consumers might be ready to wear that kind of technology on their faces wasn't so far fetched. Apple is banking that by the end of this month, we'll be willing to leap from our pockets to our wrists. Maybe the wrist will be more acceptable/accessible to our culture - at this point in time - than the eyes. We're about to find to find.

What both glasses and watches are pointing us to.

Whether it's a glass or a watch, these are intermediary technologies. They are technologies that we will use - in the meantime and as a bridge - to advance us to the real end-state. Looking out into the not-too-distant future, it is apparent that we entering into the One Screen World. Where screens are everywhere, they're connected and they are ubiquitous. All of our devices will be connected. To one another... to the Internet and some will soon become an Internet unto themselves. These appliances, devices and technologies will be talking... To one another. To us. To businesses. To marketers. Still, these smartphones, these glasses, these watches, these appliances, these tablets, these laptops, these screens still display their information on to a physical surface (glass, plastics and what have you). At the TED conference (this year and the last one), I've had the opportunity to play with two technologies that fall under the nomenclature of "augmented reality" and "virtual reality." While definitions vary from pundit to pundit, I like to think of augmented reality as technology that enhances the physical environment around us. Virtual reality places the consumer into an all encompassing world that could not exist (or doesn't exist) in our physical world. It's hard for the average bear to wrap themselves around what this mean. The mass consumer thinks of augmented reality and virtual reality in terms of videos games, demos at toy stores or rides at a thrill park. In attending these past two TEDs and participating in demonstrations, it is becoming abundantly clear, that both augmented reality and virtual reality are primed to be the true convergence of our digital and physical reality.

A true convergence. 

In following the tech space, the past little while has seen a burst in articles about Magic Leap. It was first announced that Google was pumping $500 million into this startup that was attempting to develop a new way for users to interact with technology. A lot of the speculation was around Magic Leap's development of the new web browser or the mouse of the future. Definitions that sounded ambiguous, ambitious and in line with Google's desire to go after these kind of "moon shots" (like self-driving cars, and the like). Magic Leap was supposed to unveil the first demo of their technology at the TED event (which happened earlier in the month). They pulled out at the last minute. A few days later, they did release the video below. So, Google has Magic Leap, while Facebook bought Oculus VR. Two titans trying - desperately - to figure out how consumers will interact with information. It's something we all need to be paying a lot more attention to.

Thinking about this digital reality. 

Perhaps, the notion of the One Screen World is already feeling aged. Perhaps, what we're seeing is the inevitable digital reality. A place where information and interaction is simply projected or embedded everywhere. We don't need any screen to access information. We don't need any technology physically on us, because it is (somehow) embedded in everything. It's easy to think that this is very far off. It becomes strikingly closer to home after you watch the Magic Leap demo below. Yes, for the next short while, we're going to be fumbling through our pockets or looking at our wrists for information, but it won't be long until our environment really is showing us things that we never imagined it would. It will be speaking to us... as we want to be spoken to. In the short-term, it still speaks volumes to the challenges of business today. The need for leaders to become digital leaders is still paramount. The need for these digital leaders to transform their business, develop new digital products and/or services, and to understand the many new and nuanced channels of distribution is now. The brand's need to leverage data and automation to improve results and trigger more functional outcomes is now. Watch the video below, and tell me that your mind is not running wild with the exciting opportunities we will have to connect our brands in more powerful ways to these types of consumers.

It is a new digital reality, isn't it?

By Mitch Joel


March 24, 2015 8:11 AM

Email. You're Doing It Wrong.

I suck at email. I think.

It's a form of technology and communication that fascinates me. Fundamentally, email hasn't changed that much since it was first invented. Most of us still struggle with how we sort, file and keep conversations across devices and email addresses. The rest of us take part in daily gladiator-like battles against the inbox. I'm usually quite good at taming my inbox (though, I rarely get to inbox zero). Lately, it has become embarrasingly unwieldy (and, if you're reading this and I have yet to respond to your email, I will... promise... and, I'm sorry!). Email reminds me of one thing: Tetris. The emails keep dropping in, we respond and move them as quickly as we can, but sure enough, they eventually just pile up - one on top of the other - until... it's game over. Some people declare email bankruptcy. I haven't done that, but I have declared voicemail bankruptcy (and, it has worked out... I think). What has changed dramatically in the world of email is the etiquette in writing, reading even sending these digital correspondences. Email has become ubiquitous part of day-to-day life (along with the pervasiveness of mobile devices). Many professionals choose email over meeting in person, placing a phone call or even Skype. It feels like we're writing and reading much more than anyone ever suspected we might.

When do you send your emails?

I used to half-jokingly tell people at the office that I was heading home to get some work done. It's easy to get sucked into the vortex of emails (buffered by meetings) before realizing that the day has escaped you, and that the real critical work (the reason that you were hired) hasn't been done. I've lost many days of sunlight grappling with the inbox. I'm the one usually tapping out by the end of the day. While many "experts" in productivity will tell you to work on the most important stuff first, my email habits are pretty straightforward. I'm best at getting through email first thing in the morning (along with a latte to keep me going), then a minor email spurt after lunch and then again later in the evening (listening to jazz music, if you must know). I also attempt to play catch-up over the weekend, if I can. I'm not saying that my system is right. I am saying that my system seems to be right for me. 

I am killing you all. Sorry.

Last week, Maura Thomas published an article on the Harvard Business Review website titled, Your Late-Night Emails Are Hurting Your Team. I was sent this article via a fellow team member at Mirum. It wasn't, specifically, intended for me. It was more of a provocation. From the article: "As a productivity trainer specializing in attention management, I've seen over the past decade how after-hours emails speed up corporate cultures -- and that, in turn, chips away at creativity, innovation, and true productivity. If this is a common behavior for you, you're missing the opportunity to get some distance from work -- distance that's critical to the fresh perspective you need as the leader. And, when the boss is working, the team feels like they should be working. Think about the message you'd like to send. Do you intend for your staff to reply to you immediately? Or are you just sending the email because you're thinking about it at the moment, and want to get it done before you forget? If it's the former, you're intentionally chaining your employees to the office 24/7. If it's the latter, you're unintentionally chaining your employees to the office 24/7. And this isn't good for you, your employees, or your company culture."  

Do as I say, not as I do.

Beyond a swift kick to the gut, this article reminded me of something very important: you're only a workaholic if you're truly missing balance in your life. In my second business book, CTRL ALT Delete, I talk a lot about the myths of work and life balance. Namely: work is a huge component of life - especially if you are driven by something that you are both passionate and skilled at - and the work that you are meant to do should never be relegated to any kind of corner. With that, true balance can best be visualized by thinking of life as a stool with three legs. The three legs are:

  1. Personal.
  2. Professional.
  3. Community.
If you don't have balance between your personal/family, your professional/work and your community/service to others, that three-legged stool is going to topple over. With that, how you operate has to be crystal clear to your team (and everyone else). I do my best to let everyone know that just because I have a more comfortable time to write emails, it doesn't mean that there is any expectation or anticipation of anything mentioned in the Harvard Business Review piece. That is, unless, things are marked "urgent" (which is rare). All emails can be responded to when the recipient is most comfortable. With that, there is no doubt that many people in the workforce don't understand how to manage their technology, or the expectations of their fellow team members. While it may be easy to point the finger at email and smartphones as the culprits in this always-on, real-time and 24/7 work cycle, the blame lies with the people. If suddenly people have become addicted to their devices or feel the need to respond as some sort of one-upping of their peers, they would find a way to do it if email never existed. With that, setting expectations is critical, but let's not point the finger at off-campus emailing as some kind of indicator that brands are suddenly less creative, innovative or productive. If something as simple as when emails are sent is sending your business into a tailspin, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that something was going to get you, regardless.
Do you care when emails are sent to you?

By Mitch Joel


March 23, 2015 8:51 AM

My Week At The TED Conference

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


March 22, 2015 9:25 AM

How To Pick Winners In The Digital Age

Episode #454 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. Rohit Bhargava is here to help. The trend curator, founder of the Influential Marketing Group, and the bestselling author... Read more

By Mitch Joel


March 21, 2015 8:43 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #248

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


March 16, 2015 9:00 AM

The Fascinating Thing About The Wrist

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


March 15, 2015 8:12 AM

The Art Of The LEGO Brick

Episode #453 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. I can't remember when I first heard of Nathan Sawaya, but I knew his work long before I knew... Read more

By Mitch Joel