Surface-Area and Influence

Dawn Endico - "Tafoni"

It’s not a new idea that simply by spending a large amount of time with someone you gain influence on their behavior, if not their ideas. I’m sure you’ve seen this in your daily lives. You’ve ended up spending a lot of time with an acquaintence whose ideas you don’t have a high degree of respect for, however, you find yourself acquiesing to their requests simply through the pressures of proximity.

Where I think something new may be gleaned on this subject is by taking this concrete notion into the abstract. When the entity being influenced is more nebulous than a person and the proximity in question is not simply physical. So, we have two places to start: Subject and Proximity.


What is a more abstract notion of a subject than simply a person? How about an idea? This is usually the motivation behind any desire to influence anyway, is it not? Your influence may have an end goal of changing behaviour, but only a magician can change behaviour directly. You must influence the propagation; the impetus. Therefore, you must seek either to change existing ideas or instantiate new ones…

An idea can stretch across multiple individuals, and, it does not fully occupy any one individual. It reaches only so far into their being in any particular aspect of their existence: Philosophically, temporally, spatially, ethically… Pick any category and no singular notion will take full residence. The point that I’m driving towards is that the boundary where you must apply influence is an abstract surface, stretching across and into individuals that you may or may not already know, both in space-time, but also in concept and ideological space.


So, trying to understand what it means to have influence across this surface is a very complicated prospect. Instead of attempting to divine the full details, what if instead we attempt to generalise the notion of simply spending more time with a person? This gives rise to surface proximity. Perhaps the best way to move forward here would be to provide a list of classifications, examples or case studies, but maybe that’s best left to a follow up post.

What’s the best way to measure the influential distance so that it can be optimised? I see the influence and the region to which influence is to be applied as two surfaces, so surely the unit of measure is the volume between them. Does this make sense if the surfaces are unbounded? What if the surfaces are finite, but their environment is unbounded? Especially when there is no intrinsic orientation?

Perhaps that is another question to be left unanswered for the present.