When I was a junior or senior in high school, all of us had to take the Myers-Briggs personality test. I’m sure my lovely wife, a university psych researcher, would prefer I call it a psychological typing instrument or a psychometric indicator or what have you but I think most of us laymen just refer to it as a personality test. Turns out I am an ISTP… for a more objective / “clinical” definition click here and for a more exciting one here. For what it’s worth, the latter is actually the #1 organic search result when you google “ISTP”.
I’ve never taken the test again in a formal context, I gather the results can change a bit as you get older and your personality changes. And I still find it’s pretty weird that as an introvert, I spent a good portion of my time in essentially bus/corp dev roles while I was in startups. But I have no doubt that I remain an introvert (the “I” in ISTP). No, I’m not shut in and hopefully not wholly awkward in social contexts or anything like that. But among other things, it’s taken me a little while to become accustomed to our generally greater level of online expression.
Some examples… after being a TypePad beta tester for Six Apart back in 2003, I resumed blogging at the end of 2005. After roughly a post a month for 2006 and 2007, it’s taken me until now to become more comfortable with more frequent posting (up to 4 in June, woohoo!). I started twittering in a meaningful way back in April. I’ve of course been posting photos online for years through an evolution of services from Shutterfly to Yahoo! to Flickr to Picasa to Multiply. Lately I’ve been gravitating to Multiply, of course in part because we’re investors in the company. But in all honesty and with whatever objectivity I can muster, the ability to uniquely permission every piece of content I share on Multiply has been a major draw for me (as opposed to exposing to the whole web).
So what? Well for me the introvert, it’s been interesting to expand the breadth, types, and frequency of interactions I have with other people online. Of course in the physical world as a VC I’m continuously meeting lots of new folks. But there are folks I know whom I only see occasionally, and now following them on Twitter has yielded a new sort of connection (at least as I perceive it). People who read this blog either at leehower.com or thru RSS might be having a similar “interaction” with me. We share our UGC with others through whatever platforms we choose, thereby getting glimpses into each others lives that we might not have had previously at least in terms of intensity.
I’m not sure this online redefinition of who we know and how we interact is going to turn me or anybody else into an extrovert. But I continue to be pleasantly (more often than not) surprised by the evolution of what I think it means to “know” somebody.