Some disclosure before I begin; I have been friends with Mitch Joel since 2004/2005 when we sat on the Digital Marketing council at the Canadian Marketing Association together. Subsequently, while I was Director of Digital Marketing at Scotiabank I hired his agency, Twist Image. So, I’ve tried to remain objective, but please read on with that in mind.
If you follow Mitch Joel by reading his blog, or listening to his podcast (or if you have ever had the chance hear him speak live) you’ll get through Six Pixels of Separation quickly. As he does in other communication mediums, he breaks down the subject matter into understandable chunks that not only make sense, but are made quite compelling.
Six Pixels of Separation is a straightforward premise that we are all connected. And, that our ever expanding digital universe is bringing us all closer together. But it is not about understanding technology. It is about the transformative effects of technology on business, built on the foundation that we are living through a period of history unlike any other. It is about the merger of our personal and professional lives and the paradigm shift that the marketing and communications industry faces as new media evolves and the consumer landscape evolves with it.
Under that guiding principle, Mitch lays out concepts, observations and examples taking his readers on an enjoyable ride through the digital world with a focus on what it means for businesses big and small to operate in this space. He effectively blends and extends from other thought leaders in marketing like Kevin Roberts, Seth Godin, Chris Anderson, Clay Shirky, Don Tapscott and Joseph Jaffe, putting his own point of view and spin on them. Even sharpening them in places.
He has stated that the book is simply the prelude to his blog. Having read his blog daily, I think the book is a bit more than that. It manages to synthesize all the ideas and opinions Mitch has put out there over the years, neatly framing them in a very fluid and coherent manner. And, with a background in journalism, he writes rather well. That is why I started reading his blog in the first place and why I – and many others – continue.
I could easily say that the book is not for me. Or, that it may not be for people who read this blog because we are in this space and know it intimately. However, that is not the case. Mitch shines in making the topics approachable and exciting for both newbie and advanced audiences. Six Pixels of Separation pays careful attention to weave together the larger context of what is taking place, painting a picture that (hopefully) serves to motivate readers that the future is still unwritten and everyone is an author.
Make no mistake, this is not a “how to” book. This is the book you need to read before you get to the “how to” stage. Mitch avoids getting into the weeds of providing step by step instructions and concedes it was done on purpose. He manages to stay the course, guiding readers on bigger issues and logical first steps that answer the most important question of “why would we do this” instead of “how do we use the tools”. The difference is huge.
Six Pixels of Separation is about finding the inspiration to start planning your approach with the confidence you are heading in the right direction. I enjoyed reading it and think you will as well.