Thank you for the write up. It's nice to ponder some design suggestions since I've mostly been concentrating on the technical side so far.
Some kind of "leader/follower" concept would give this idea more balance - some kind of medium-sized shape that's also largely influencial (in a mutually beneficial way), but not as prone to changing, itself. As more similar ones flock together, the bigger they all grow from being around one another, but "leader" figures are nearly immune from one-another's influence for awhile - you'd have to isolate* and "shrink" them as a result, before they could be reinfluenced.
*By "isolate," I mean have it close to alone, but still surrounded, well-within the opposing influences' range. This way, it would have to "shrink itself" just to move around. Being totally alone with space to grow will probably result in it naturally becoming "the colossal triangle."
This is something I've thought about before, although I hadn't fleshed it out as much as this. Basically, if an influential personality is left in isolation it is currently useless, having nothing to influence. It will seek out followers though. If an influential personality is in a culture (or "has followers") it will grow to a size determined by the number of followers it has, which will in turn allow it to "fit" more followers in to it's culture.
Also, cultures will be required to have a leader (no anarchies, I don't think a pure anarchy in the real world is possible anyway). If a leader dies or leaves the personality with the next most influence to be the new leader of that culture.
And while the players can shape/manipulate the "leader" figures, the fact will remain that many "follower" figures are nigh-uninfluencable (IE: you can't drag/move them directly, only consequently by moving their "leader" figure), until grown to a certain size. So the catch becomes that you have to "bond" followers to leaders to build (a few of) them into more leaders, and then get them rearranged and reinfluenced before they all stagnate into sameness. And followers' mobility will be considerably nerfed compared to leaders' potential, so when a leader moves, it's likely some will be left behind.
I love this idea. It adds a lot of interactivity to a design that is sorely lacking in the "player" aspect. Leaders will be clearly designated by some kind of marking or different color outline.
A universal range limit will force highly-populated followers to "fight one another" for available space within their leaders, and as leaders overgrow, it will push more of that space out. So the bigger and more influencial a leader gets, the more consequently dangerous it becomes to it's once-loyal followers; and to the followers altogether, since they'll be more strongly influenced as a result of it's bigger size. To effectively use a bigger range, it will have to develop more leaders that work together. (IE: create "multiple-culture communities," which in turn may be partially influenced in different directions in regards to other leadership figures in different vicinities.)
My idea for fighting in the game had been strictly intra-culture. But, your idea of "multiple-cultural communities" is cool. It's something I'll definitely think about.
If you want something -really- wicked, you can also add a breeding influence, too - ones well within the "culture" will produce more culture-specific breeds, where ones on the outsides will result in more cross-breeds (which when given space, can result in more leaders), but that's getting way ahead of this, maybe.
I've actually put a breeding mechanic in to the design already and it's actually pretty simple compared to the other interactions I have planned.