Book Review: Data, A Love Story
What do you do if you’re continually striking out in the dating world, and your long-term relationships have all gone sour? Amy Webb turned to algorithms. In Data, a Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match, Webb shares how her detailed analysis of the ‘data’ of online dating sites and trial and error experimentation with fictional accounts led to her finding the man of her dreams:
I’m not a relationship coach or an expert on love. I’m just a woman who was tired of dating the wrong men and was desperate to find the perfect husband. I decided that the system was broken and, more importantly, that I was smart enough to fix it. Rather than complaining, giving up, or giving in, I used math and ingenuity to get what I wanted. Make a list. Score your dates. Market yourself wisely. Find your needle [in the haystack.]
After a series of lackluster dates and a less than optimal online dating experience, Webb decided to take matters into her own hands. She drew up an exhaustive 72-point list of features her future husband must possess and created fake profiles to match. Using these fictional accounts, she was able to scope out her competition, identifying which popular profiles would be shown to this ideal match.
With this data in hand, Webb was able to optimize her own profile in a way that would give her a better shot at appearing in the search results of her dream suitor. Gaming the system didn’t stop there, however.
She returned to her master list of traits and identified which traits were important to her personally, which were important to her family, and which traits she enjoyed in previous relationships. Using the first group, she narrowed the pool down to a prioritized list of ten deal breakers, and a second tier of “almost-as-important” traits, scoring each trait from 1-100, with 100 being the most important.
Armed with an optimized profile and an intricate rating system, she was able to approach all future matches with scientific detachment. Profiles must receive a score of 700 points before they could be considered for a date; dates must receive a score of 1000 before they could lead to a relationship; and her perfect mate was surely someone in the 1500-point range.