How Many People Are You Consuming in a Day?

Posted on August 25, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups, venture capital | Tags: , , , |

When thinking about product, I often find myself going down the path of trying to replicate/enhance offline behavior through software.  Lately, I have been absolutely obsessed with the concept of productizing or at least enhancing offline, non-verbal communication.  I’ve been thinking a lot about what people consume on a local level.  It’s a question that is very important to our future at Jumppost and a question that is becoming increasingly interesting to investors and entrepreneurs as location based technologies change our capacity to segment users and build user experience by specific geographic parameters.

It is not surprising to me that much of the innovation we’ve seen in the last 12-24 months in the local space has been focused around the interaction between consumers and local merchants (restaurants, dry cleaners, etc.).  If we map local consumption patterns, I would say that local goods and services are the second most frequent object of consumption in a consumer’s local experience.  What I buy when I walk out my door definitely defines my local experience, and the things I consume in the largest volume have a great impact on my perception of my neighborhood, and as an extension, my perception of myself as a member of the community in which I live.

The only object(s) I see myself consuming that has a greater influence on my local experience, and as a derivative, my local identity, is the population that surrounds me.  Although a very lightweight form of consumption, I have been trying to quantify the volume of people that I consume in a given day.  I will call consumption any visual intake, and then value the volume of consumption by my level of engagement or interaction with each person I consume.  I’ve been asking folks lately how many people they think they pass by or see in a given day in New York, and the answers are all over the place.  Some people say 50, or 100, some say 500, and I personally would posit that the number is closer to 10,000.  Of those 10,000, I think I probably consciously register 1000-2000, maybe I make eye contact with 500, and have some richer form of communication whether verbal or non-verbal (i.e. hold a door, smile, etc.) with 100-200.

What would a product look like that attempted to replicate or enhance the experience of human consumption at the 10,000 person level?  I see elements of the answer in concepts like Chatroulette and Hot or Not, which take seemingly random consumption of other human beings, and then in both cases, push that lightweight (10,000 person) consumption down the funnel toward more active communication.  But then I wonder if the product that will capture/reflect/enhance my consumption of local inhabitants needs to push our extremely lightweight relationship down the funnel into some more meaningful communication, or perhaps it is enough to simply overlay that consumption with some richer dataset.  What if every person you consumed at the local level had a sign on their chest with a nametag?  What would change?  Would people say hi and push themselves down the communication funnel?  Not sure.  Maybe it’s not a nametag that people want.  Maybe I’d prefer to see an image of everyone’s spouse/partner on their shirt?  Or a floating sign with their occupation above their head?  Would that enrich my local experience and consumption of the people that surround me in a way that would improve the quality of my local experience?  Probably.  I don’t have a ton of answers here yet, but super interested in wrapping with anyone who wants to think about this with me.

P.S. If you have a second to drop your estimate of the number of people you think you 1) consume, 2) communicate with, and 3) make eye contact with in a given day, please drop your answers and the name of your city in the comments.

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8 Responses to “How Many People Are You Consuming in a Day?”

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Do you think Dunbar’s number makes this question irrelevant? Meaning, if the upper limit of relationships I can handle is 150 (arguably a bit more with current networking tools, but the point remains), then why do I want to try and overload myself with more info / relationships than I can handle?

I’ve been focused on a slightly different problem – would love to hear your thoughts:

Existing online social platforms are good at connecting 1 person with many (the 1 : 1,000 approach), but not at fostering meaningful one-to-one relationships. Why is that?

I don’t. I would argue that you are already experiencing/handling some form of relationship with well over that number in any given day. If you are considering maintenance of relationships, then i could see it becoming more relevant, but conceptualizing a product that recognizes the transient and temporal nature of these lightweight relationships, as well as the opportunity for relationship churn and discovery, would be possible within the bounds of that idea

My view is that online social platforms (Facebook, in particular) are making Dunbar’s number obsolete.

I think relationships are hard to maintain because you have to have a shared context or awareness for a relationship to be meaningful. Social platforms make the learning or “catching up” process asynchronous and almost osmotic, so that each relationship takes far less time to maintain.

In much the same way, I can see the potential for a product that short-circuits the “introduction” step of a lightweight relationship to enable meaningful interactions in far less time.

All this is a long way of saying that I think the limiting factor for # of relationships maintained is just time/effort. So there could be a lot of value in a product that reduced either the time or effort.

# ppl
consumed: 100
eye contact: 30
communicate: 10
in Boston

That is crazy stuff man, you gave me some weird images in my head with your people consumption.

Business is what NOKIA’s moto is about man ! connecting people, not just connecting with people .

Your metric should be not how many you can consume, but how many can you get to interact with one another by your actions !

Best place to do this is coffee shops and clubs, but should be relatively easy to do on the street too.

Good luck in your search for an answer to your predicament 😀

Overlay consumption with a richer dataset >> Rapportive does this very well for email. The service is especially relevant for those outside of the first few rings of my social graph.

Added to my collection of favorite quotes by Jordan: “how many people have you consumed today”.

1) Consume: 1500
2) Communicate: 40 (I’m sort of shy with strangers)
3) Eye Contact: 200 (but apparently don’t mind creepily staring)
4) City: New York City


Not sure if you saw this, but this is 1 piece to the puzzle ( Now you just need an augmented reality layer and Rapleaf integration, all tied up into a great looking app.

Jordan: We’re turning people into media (purchasable by big brands in hyper-targeted local campaigns that are MASSIVELY scalable). In the US alone, consumers purchase $13bn of custom apparel for their organizations (sports leagues, college groups, schools, family reunions, etc). That’s ~1 billion shirts (~3x the population). Currently our network provides access to ~20mm local consumers per year in >4,000 local markets [and growing].

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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