Dixie, or the Flatline, is an interesting idea because he (it?) does not represent the conventional guide or agent as it is thought of today. As presently conceived, the agent of today would merely perform the menial chores of searching through large amounts of data to find the most useful pieces for the user. The agent operates in a dynamic environment, but it has only simple chores. A guide in today's parlance is much like a personal guide to a museum who knows everything about the exhibits but who works in a static environment, where nothing is left to chance. Dixie amounts to some combination of the two: As an agent, Dixie can keep the show running while Case is mentally elsewhere. As a guide, Dixie's knowledge is available to Case for the asking. Dixie as a combination of the two gives Case something else, a sort of half-mentor/ half-partner who is almost as capable as Case is despite the fact that he is, as he himself eventually realizes, dead.