Sit down, pour yourself a drink, what dimension are you in?

Posted on May 14, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

PREFACE: This is a little heady, and i definitely missed in places, but i think there are a few nuggets if you persist through the post. Sorry, wrote it on the back of an envelope on the street…

So much of the data we consume that informs  our decisions and our being is “pushed” at us, we do not “pull” or ask for it.  We place ourselves in contexts where we are likely to consume certain patterns of data, but it is the decisions and will of other individuals that move through the context in which we exist at any given moment that determine what we do and who we become.  A man walks by me in a purple shirt and a yellow hat and I am literally changed forever.  There is not a single moment of my life that will not be influenced by this occurrence.  My local decisions (where to live, where to eat, etc.) are simply attempts at placing myself into contexts in which those that move into them and therefore shape/define me will be of a type and quality that furthers me in a direction consistent with my concept of my future self/life.

In an analog life, people fearlessly move into a physical environment where others see and observe them.  They are conscious of the context which they have entered and there is a predictability around the result of their presence in it.  As we shift into a digital age, there are increasing numbers of those who view the digital realm as an extension of the context they enter (“physical/digital thinkers”).  They are aware that their position in space is not the only dimension they enter and act accordingly.  They have no fear of their visibility and presence in the non-physical dimension.  Those that grew up in a world where this dimension was not a part of day to day context (“physical world thinkers”), cannot process or understand their presence within it and therefor fear being “consumed” by others within it, despite the fact that they lack fear of similar self-exposure and consumption within the physical context.

One potential mitagant to this type of fear is a stronger feedback loop from the digital realm.  When a “physical world thinker” is observed in the physical world, his image, movement, words, and even affinities are observed by those within eyesight.  The observed can not only gauge reaction from thsoe consuming his image, but he can also make some assessment and observe “who” is consuming his image.  Although he cannot attach an identity to or attain certainty around the qualities of those within his physical context, he takes comfort in the consumption of even light  and insignificant data about those consuming him.

Conversely, when an image of that same person is captured within the physical world, but then housed in the digital dimension of the same “context” (i.e. a photo stored online), the consumed is no longer capable of seeing “who” is consuming him.  In neither dimension does the consumed actually know those consuming him, but without a visible and physical representation of those consuming, the “physical world thinker” perceives instability and lack of safety.  The “physical/digital thinker,” who recognizes this newly emerged dimension to context does not fear her presence within the digital dimension, as she can “see” it despite it’s lack of physical visibility in the moment.  She carries around a device in her back pocket (smartphone) which is a window into that dimension of her present context, accessible only seconds from the point in which she demands entrance.  We increasingly move between the physical and digital dimensions of our context, to the point where the “self” exists no more in one dimension than the other.  I believe fear of the self being visible in the digital dimension will one day be perceived in a similar vein to our present day concept of agoraphobia.

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4 Responses to “Sit down, pour yourself a drink, what dimension are you in?”

RSS Feed for Jordan Cooper's Blog: startups, venture capital, etc… Comments RSS Feed

Great post.

Two quick typos:

1. “gauge reaction from thsoe” – > those

2. “as she can “see” it despite it’s ” -> its


Thoughtful and thought provoking, Jordan.

I agree with your analysis and conclusion entirely and it brings forth the idea of physical norms of observance and how they may improve adoption and comfort in the virtual norms of observance.

One constant barrier for my deep involvement in online social networking is the incomplete assessment one can make about another and how inconsistently or even falsely one can represent themselves online.

I think about this as I have learned that varying demographics of smart phone/mobility/geolocal users are comfortable with personal data being collected passively provided they have the capability to filter certain attributes entirely.

I spend considerable energy in thinking about features and users, technical bridges between online and offline in such a way as to seamlessly transport behavior, sentiment and personality online and shorten the distance for the user between communicating and being understood.

I appreciate your post, something more for all of us to think about and I’m glad to see others are grappling with this as well.


Do you know the quote from the David Brooks recent book, “Social Animal?” It is: “we become who we are in conjunction with others becoming who they are.” This interplay of context and presence is described as Level II information. Level I is the realm of the conscious, deliberate you. Level II, by far the messier, more feeling, you. I was reminded of this reading your post, gb

i’ll check it out. thanks GB

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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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