How to use data to get a date
EVER been on a date arranged online? Amy Webb has. Lots of them. She wrote a book about her experiences called Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match. Webb says dating sites fail because they’re “computing our half-truths and aspirational wishes”. We show a highly selective, idealised version of ourselves. Maria Popova reviews:
After a series of bad dates following a major heartbreak, mathematically-driven Amy decided to take a quantitative approach to the playing field and started systematically recording various data points about her dates, revealing some important correlations. After one particularly bad date, she decided to formalize the exercise and wrote down everything that was important to her in a mate — from intellectual overlap to acceptable amount of body hair — eventually coming up with 72 attributes that she was going to demand in any future date. She then broke down these attributes into two tiers and developed a scoring system, assigning specific points to each. For 700 out of a maximum possible 1800, she’d agree to have an email exchange; for 900, she’d go on a date; for 1,500, she’d consider a long-term relationship.
Dating someone who boils risk and choice into cold statistics might be your cup of tea. But it work for Amy. Says the married Webb writer:
[My husband and I] were tracking all possible data. It went way beyond poop. We were trying to figure out when she was most attentive so that we could occupy her – flash cards, me playing piano with her. By her six month visit, we asked her doctor to give her a grade, so that we knew whether or not we were making good progress. He gave her an A, and he gave us a C-. He told us to put the binder away and to stop making scatter plots of her … well, of her everything.
Well, Amy and her man found each other. And one day, when their daughter is playing the Royal Albert Hall or a therapy group, she might find her true love…