Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
May 1, 2016 6:58 AM

Understanding The Blockchain With Alex and Don Tapscott

Episode #512 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to.

The technology behind Bitcoin is something called Blockchain. Many think of it as a complex new way that technology works and connects information and value to consumers. Legendary digital thinker, Don Tapscott, believes it's going to change our world - much in the same way that he predicted (back in 1994) that we would have a digital economy. For his latest book, Blockchain Revolution, he teamed up with his son, Alex Tapscott. Don wrote books like Wikinomics, Grown Up Digital, and many more that have become seminal books of our digital culture, and he is an advisor to some of the largest corporations and governments in the world. Alex is the founder of Northwest Passage Ventures. For seven years Alex worked to help entrepreneurs raise hundreds of millions of dollars in capital. He is a passionate advocate for the disruptive potential of new technology. Blockchain Revolution has already been called, "an iconic book for these times," and brings us back to the excitement and opportunities that many felt, when the first web browser was introduced. Is the blockchain revolution the future of creating value or will it fall into the wrong hands? 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 #512.

By Mitch Joel


April 30, 2016 6:09 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #306

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: 

  • Bots won't replace apps. Better apps will replace apps - Dan Grover. "Everyone in Silicon Valley is talking about chatbots. I've written about them a bunch. But, here's a great counterpoint-- an amazing, long post on the history of mobile and desktop apps, in which Dan Grover argues that the chat bubble is ephemeral, and if we look at WeChat and others, we'll see that they've already realized conversational UIs aren't optimal. Definitely a chewy, essential read." (Alistair for Hugh).
  • Worth a thousand words? The power (and the limitations) of data visualization - Martin Wilcox - LinkedIn. "I was in Hamburg this week, and one of my hosts, Martin Willcox, pointed me at this. It's a teardown of one of the most famous infographics of all time, showing Napoleon's march on (and retreat from) Russia. Martin observes, with good evidence, that there's as much omitted as there is revealed, and that the author almost certainly had an agenda when creating it." (Alistair for Mitch).
  • The Pillaging of America's State Universities - The Atlantic. "How's this for a damning factoid: 'Between 2008 and 2013 states reduced financial support to top public research universities by close to 30 percent. At the same time, these states increased support of prisons by more than 130 percent.'" (Hugh for Alistair).
  • Postcards From Google Earth. "A collection of Google Earth glitches, or how AI sees the world?" (Hugh for Mitch). 
  • Nothing Twitter Is Doing Is Working - The Verge. "I still love Twitter. It's sharp, quick and fits in my nomadic, travelling, infovore-soaked lifestyle. It's also easy. 140 characters. Boom. Done. Still, they're a public company. They made $590 million instead of Wall Street's dream of $610 million this quarter. They added 5 million new users this quarter (when most people thought it would be flat), but Wall Street still wants more, more, more. Twitter's stock is tumbling, and many are now saying that it has lost its course. Now, many think that Twitter needs video to save them. They're going to shift from words to video? We live in a crazy world, don't we?" (Mitch for Alistair).
  • Why click-bait will be the death of journalism - PBS Newshour. "I have a love and passion for journalism, newspapers and publishing. I don't mind the click and link bait articles of the world. For every high brow magazine about global economics that I like to read, I am well-aware of the headline-powered journalism that makes people stop and pick up magazines while in line at the checkout counter of their local grocery store. The problem - as this article defines it - is that they are both not the same form of media. We have to be very careful about what we call journalism moving forward... especially, if we really want to hold politicians and public officials accountable for their actions." (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


April 29, 2016 7:57 AM

Humans First. Technology Second.

It seems simple enough. Let's put each other first, before the technology.

What is simple is not often what we - as humans - do. Think about it this way: what is the first thing that you touch right after you wake up? What is the last thing that you touch right before bed at night? If you are living with someone, is it your smartphone or your (smart) partner? The data doesn't lie. It's the tech, silly. Call it a sad state of affairs. We often forget, that in the deluge of technology we may be losing some form of human face, connection... reality. Kids toys now have iPad holders. Kids don't sit and eat dinner in the restaurant with adults, unless they can fidget with a device. Not all? Some? Most? It is a deeply philosophical debate... but a powerful one. Often the adults are no better than the children. It is a debate that some very big brains took on last month at the Global Peter Drucker Forum, and this is a fascinating look into internet culture, society, media and humanities. The debate, conversation and deep-dive involves Andrew Hill (Editor of the Financial Times), John Hagel (Director of Deloitte's Center for the Edge), Charles Handley (social philosopher and writer) and Sherry Turkle (professor of social studies at MIT and author of Alone Together, Reclaiming Conversation and more). The positions, questions, answers and discussion provides a ton of great quotes, insights and something for all of us to think much more about.  

Here is something for every business professional to watch: Global Peter Drucker Forum - Humans First - Technology Second

By Mitch Joel


April 28, 201611:01 PM

A More Elegant Question About Twitter

What should Twitter do?

Do you have an opinion? Do you know what they have done in the past year? It has been a year of change for the platform that allows people to share 140 characters with one another. Still, after their quarterly earnings call this week, we see a very different Twitter than one we have known to date. In June, it will be one year since CEO Dick Costolo left (and was replaced by co-founder, Jack Dorsey). The online social network is still not profitable, and even though it got five million more users this quarter (they are at around 310 million total), it's still considered relatively flat by industry standards. It also looks like Facebook is eating anything and everything in comparison (have you seen Facebook's results this week?). With that, Twitter has tried... and is trying. They have done everything from a television ad campaign and the launching of Moments to improving their tools around harassment and abuse. With that, they have opened up the algorithm to sort tweets by user quality over recency, allowed for longer direct messages beyond the 140 character limit and integrated their live, streaming platform - Periscope - into their general timeline.

Is all of that enough?

Video. This is the "be all" and "end all." Whether it's Twitter's announcement of NFL streaming or the need to push the growth of their Periscope acquisition, every pundit feels that the future of Twitter is video. Video is hot right now. Live streaming video is even hotter. So, everyone wants to know if Twitter has what it takes to evolve, to improve their product and grow (like Facebook is doing). I'm left wondering if this is possible... is this a fair request? It's easy (for everyone) to say that video is the here, now and future of online, but Twitter built a legacy on being the first mobile-first social network. It really was the first social media platform that was better, more interesting and easier to use on your mobile device than the desktop. In a world where Facebook and YouTube were offering a "lesser than" product on mobile, Twitter gained traction and audience because of how intuitive and glorious it was (and still is) on the smartphone. Consumers never felt like they were missing anything on the mobile version. The other aspect of Twitter's hyper-growth was the simplicity in content creation: 140 characters. Much easier than blogging and much easier (at the time of their initial growth) than posting a photo (let alone video). So, where does this net out? Twitter was about mobile and simple text. Now, everyone's shouting that Twitter needs to be about video.

Shoot that video. Make that post.

Have you seen what is going on over at Snapchat? Snapchatters (this is what all of the cool kids call them ;) are watching close to ten billion videos every day. The growth is staggering, and this is what the pundits are comparing Twitter to (be like them!). If Snapchat can grow like this, why can't Twitter? Twitter is newish to video (everyone is new to video). Twitter's users are blurting in text message format. They're (occasionally) posting pictures (granted, it seems like Instagram and Facebook own that whole mobile, social photo sharing space with Snapchat). Are we asking too much of Twitter? Jack Dorsey believes that Twitter is all about "live." He believes that Twitter is a leader in live and video. Is this where consumers go to post video and share videos and create live streaming videos? As a brand, that means something. Still, instead of trying to figure out what Twitter needs to do next, we need to ask another question...

A more elegant question about Twitter: can we expect a platform that mastered the art of 140 characters of text to also master the realm of live and streaming video?

By Mitch Joel


April 27, 2016 3:38 PM

6 Business Books That Are Coming (That You Better Get)

There is a whole new batch of business books that are coming out in the next few months.

My book reading pace has slowed. Dramatically. Not because of Netflix (but, let's be honest, have you seen the latest seasons of Daredevil and House of Lies?), but because there really wasn't all that much that was moving me in the non-fiction book space. I've been neck-deep in some great long-form reads online (special thanks to Pocket for making it all so accessible), but a great business book? It has been some time. With that, I often get asked to interview authors for Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast. In the past few weeks the stack of books building up to the left of this Macbook Air has got me pretty excited. All of these books are not yet available, but look super-fascinating. So, get your credit card ready and let's do this...

6 Business books that are coming (that you better get)... in alphabetical order:

  • TED Talks - The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson. "For anyone who has ever been inspired by a TED talk, this is an insider's guide to creating talks that are unforgettable. Since taking over TED in the early 2000s, Chris Anderson has shown how carefully crafted short talks can be the key to unlocking empathy, stirring excitement, spreading knowledge, and promoting a shared dream. Done right, a talk can electrify a room and transform an audience's worldview. Done right, a talk is more powerful than anything in written form.        This book explains how the miracle of powerful public speaking is achieved, and equips you to give it your best shot. There is no set formula; no two talks should be the same. The goal is for you to give the talk that only you can give. But don't be intimidated. You may find it more natural than you think. This is the 21st-century's new manual for truly effective communication and it is a must-read for anyone who is ready to create impact with their ideas." This book will be published on May 3rd, 2016.
  • Invisible Influence - The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior by Jonah Berger. "Berger explores the subtle, secret influences that affect the decisions we make -- from what we buy, to the careers we choose, to what we eat--in this fascinating and groundbreaking work. If you're like most people, you think that your choices and behaviors are driven by your individual, personal tastes, and opinions. You wear a certain jacket because you liked the way it looked. You picked a particular career because you found it interesting. The notion that our choices are driven by our own personal thoughts and opinions is patently obvious. Right? Wrong. Without our realizing it, other people's behavior has a huge influence on everything we do at every moment of our lives, from the mundane to the momentous occasion. Even strangers have a startling impact on our judgments and decisions: our attitudes toward a welfare policy shift if we're told it is supported by Democrats versus Republicans (even though the policy is the same in both cases). But social influence doesn't just lead us to do the same things as others. In some cases we conform, or imitate others around us. But in other cases we diverge, or avoid particular choices or behaviors because other people are doing them. We stop listening to a band because they go mainstream. We skip buying the minivan because we don't want to look like a soccer mom. In his surprising and compelling Invisible Influence, Jonah Berger integrates research and thinking from business, psychology, and social science to focus on the subtle, invisible influences behind our choices as individuals. By understanding how social influence works, we can decide when to resist and when to embrace it -- and how we can use this knowledge to make better-informed decisions and exercise more control over our own behavior." This book will be published on June 14th, 2016.
  • Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday. "Many of us insist the main impediment to a full, successful life is the outside world. In fact, the most common enemy lies within: our ego. Early in our careers, it impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, it can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, it magnifies each blow and makes recovery more difficult. At every stage, ego holds us back.  Ego Is the Enemy draws on a vast array of stories and examples, from literature to philosophy to his­tory. We meet fascinating figures who all reached the highest levels of power and success by con­quering their own egos. Their strategies and tactics can be ours as well.  In an era that glorifies social media, reality TV, and other forms of shameless self-promotion, the battle against ego must be fought on many fronts. Armed with the lessons in this book, as Holiday writes, 'you will be less invested in the story you tell about your own specialness, and as a result, you will be liberated to accomplish the world-changing work you've set out to achieve.'" This book will be published on June 14th, 2016.
  • The Inevitable - Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly. "Much of what will happen in the next thirty years is inevitable, driven by technological trends that are already in motion. In this fascinating, provocative new book, Kevin Kelly provides an optimistic road map for the future, showing how the coming changes in our lives -- from virtual reality in the home to an on-demand economy to artificial intelligence embedded in everything we manufacture -- can be understood as the result of a few long-term, accelerating forces. Kelly both describes these deep trends -- flowing, screening, accessing, sharing, filtering, remixing, tracking, and questioning -- and demonstrates how they overlap and are codependent on one another. These larger forces will completely revolutionize the way we buy, work, learn, and communicate with each other. By understanding and embracing them, says Kelly, it will be easier for us to remain on top of the coming wave of changes and to arrange our day-to-day relationships with technology in ways that bring forth maximum benefits. Kelly's bright, hopeful book will be indispensable to anyone who seeks guidance on where their business, industry, or life is heading -- what to invent, where to work, in what to invest, how to better reach customers, and what to begin to put into place -- as this new world emerges." This book will be published on June 7th, 2016.
  • Unmistakable - Why Only Is Better Than Best by Srinivas Rao. "After getting rejected from many business schools and fired from several sales jobs, Srinivas Rao decided to stop doing what he thought he was supposed to do and start working in a way that felt honest. He launched the Unmistakable Creative Podcast to interview some of the greatest minds in business finding a surprisingly big audience. This book distills the lessons, anecdotes, and insights of the 500+ people he has interviewed. Unmistakable art needs no signature. As soon as it's in front of you, you know exactly who created it, like Banksy's street art or Tim Burton's films. Whether you're a business owner, artist, or anything in between, when your work is unmistakable, your competition becomes irrelevant. They can't copy you.  The key to being unmistakable is to stop trying to be the best - because that would mean you're sticking to plans and rules that have already been set for you, choosing what's safe and reliable. Rao argues that your most meaningful, impactful, and joyful work exists outside the 'being the best' mindset, if you can strip away the expectations and pressure that you've internalized - to lead you to be the only." This book will be published on August 2nd, 2016.
  • Blockchain Revolution - How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World by Alex Tapscott and Don Tapscott. "The first generation of the digital revolution brought us the Internet of information. The second genera­tion -- powered by blockchain technology -- is bringing us the Internet of value: a new, distributed platform that can help us reshape the world of business and transform the old order of human affairs for the better.  Blockchain is the ingeniously simple, revolution­ary protocol that allows transactions to be simul­taneously anonymous and secure by maintaining a tamperproof public ledger of value. Though it's the technology that drives bitcoin and other digital cur­rencies, the underlying framework has the potential to go far beyond these and record virtually everything of value to humankind, from birth and death certifi­cates to insurance claims and even votes. Why should you care? Maybe you're a music lover who wants artists to make a living off their art. Or a consumer who wants to know where that hamburger meat really came from. Perhaps you're an immigrant who's sick of paying big fees to send money home to loved ones. Or an entrepreneur looking for a new platform to build a business.  And those examples are barely the tip of the ice­berg. This technology is public, encrypted, and readily available for anyone to use. It's already seeing wide­spread adoption in a number of areas. As with major paradigm shifts that preceded it, the blockchain will create winners and losers. And while opportunities abound, the risks of disruption and dislocation must not be ignored." This book will be published on May 10th, 2016.

Happy reading!

By Mitch Joel


April 25, 2016 8:26 AM

Facebook's Secret Inbox

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


April 24, 2016 7:17 AM

The Power Of Dealstorming

Episode #511 of Six Pixels of Separation - The Mirum Podcast is now live and ready for you to listen to. Tim Sanders spends his career on the cutting edge. He was an early stage member of Mark Cuban and... Read more

By Mitch Joel


April 23, 2016 7:41 AM

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #305

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


April 22, 201611:51 PM

TED's Secret To Great Public Speaking

Give your speech, change the world. That is the name of a great book on how to give presentations that matter by Dr. Nick Morgan (you can hear Nick and I discuss his thinking in an older episode of Six... Read more

By Mitch Joel


April 21, 201611:19 PM

The Truth In Digital Advertising

Don't believe every headline that you read. There has been a long-standing statement that, "people hate advertising." For years, I (and many others in this industry) have said that this is not true. In actuality, "people hate bad advertising." Nobody likes to... Read more

By Mitch Joel