Amy webb online dating

Amy Webb used data science to find love. After a difficult breakup of a relationship when she was 30, and feeling the pressure of her heavily involved family, this data geek started crunching numbers to try to calculate her odds of finding a man in Philadelphia who would be a match for her needs and personality. Out of the 1. A data fanatic, Webb decided to try online dating, since the matches are based on algorithms — a methodical system that appealed to her. After a number of bad experiences, she decided to start tracking data points during her lousy dates, which helped her discover that the limitation of the dating algorithms were defined by the user-generated data that was inputted into online profiles.

She also felt that the questions in the profiles were too superficial for her purposes. While I'd included way too much specific, sterile information, others had written the minimum number of characters just to fill space and had relied instead on what they thought were great photos. But even for really attractive women, photos were problematic.

Many women uploaded photos with a phantom shoulder in view. Whose shoulder was it? It was rarely someone's brother or best friend. Some photos were grainy and dark, so it was difficult to see what the woman really looked like.

There were disasters too: That said, at least slutty, cheesy Maxim photo women seemed like they were ready for fun. I looked at HottieDC's profile again. She had uploaded five uniform photos.


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In each, she was standing at a slight angle and looking straight at the lens. There were no furry animals or other people's body parts in the frame.

Of all the data you collected, what was the most revealing? And essential?

Her smile didn't seem forced. In fact, I got the feeling that she'd been laughing just before the photo was taken. Her hair and makeup didn't look overdone, but she had definitely spent time on both. Really, the only difference in HottieDC's photos was the color of camisole she was wearing in each. She could have been a catalogue model, but one that seemed friendly and approachable enough to ask out to dinner. There was absolutely no competition. I'd been bested by HottieDC and all the others right and good.

How I hacked online dating - Amy Webb

I'd thrown my JDate profile together quickly in between work meetings because I wanted to see the men on the site. I hadn't planned a strategy for my profile. Forget strategy -- I was irritated by the whole profile-building process, seeing it as an obstacle to just meeting the men that I'd want to date. Sometimes I could read, edit, and reread email messages for an hour before sending them. Yet here I was, husband hunting and armed with only a handful of half-assed bullet points and what was one of the stranger assortments of photos on JDate. I hadn't stopped to consider how badly I was representing myself during that critically important first-impression stage.

If JewishDoc saw what I'd written, he wouldn't want to date me.

For that matter, neither would the real JewishDoc HottieDC's profile may have seemed insincere and shallow to me, but then I thought about all the other popular profiles I'd viewed. Were these women really that shallow, or did they instead reveal just enough information to pique interest? Maybe HottieDC was smarter than I was giving her credit for. Online, she was definitely more enticing than me.

She was open, less competitive, and more eager to date. AMY WEBB is an award-winning journalist who wrote for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications before founding Webbmedia Group, a digital-strategy consultancy that works with Fortune companies, major media companies and foundations, the government, and others. She lives with her family in Baltimore, Maryland. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. I considered how they described themselves: On the right, I wrote my name and copied down the most prominent highlights from my profile.

On the left, I wrote HottieDC and listed the major points of her profile.


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And then I considered my profile photos. Technology Women In Tech. Data, A Love Story: So I have two possible strategies at this point I'm sort of figuring out. One, I can take my grandmother's advice and sort of least-expect my way into maybe bumping into the one out of 35 possible men in the entire 1.

Now, I like the idea of online dating, because it's predicated on an algorithm, and that's really just a simple way of saying I've got a problem, I'm going to use some data, run it through a system and get to a solution. So online dating is the second most popular way that people now meet each other, but as it turns out, algorithms have been around for thousands of years in almost every culture.

In fact, in Judaism, there were matchmakers a long time ago, and though they didn't have an explicit algorithm per se, they definitely were running through formulas in their heads, like, is the girl going to like the boy?

Data and dating: Amy Webb gives her thoughts on online romance | Sam Blum | Opinion | The Guardian

Are the families going to get along? What's the rabbi going to say? Are they going to start having children right away? The matchmaker would sort of think through all of this, put two people together, and that would be the end of it.

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So in my case, I thought, well, will data and an algorithm lead me to my Prince Charming? So I decided to sign on. Now, there was one small catch. As I'm signing on to the various dating websites, as it happens, I was really, really busy. But that actually wasn't the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that I hate filling out questionnaires of any kind, and I certainly don't like questionnaires that are like Cosmo quizzes.

So in the descriptive part up top, I said that I was an award-winning journalist and a future thinker. When I was asked about fun activities and my ideal date, I said monetization and fluency in Japanese. I talked a lot about JavaScript. So obviously this was not the best way to put my most sexy foot forward. But the real failure was that there were plenty of men for me to date.

These algorithms had a sea full of men that wanted to take me out on lots of dates -- what turned out to be truly awful dates. There was this guy Steve, the I. The algorithm matched us up because we share a love of gadgets, we share a love of math and data and '80s music, and so I agreed to go out with him. So Steve the I. And we went in, and right off the bat, our conversation really wasn't taking flight, but he was ordering a lot of food.

In fact, he didn't even bother looking at the menu. So we're nearing the end of our conversation and the end of dinner, and I've decided Steve the I. And listen, I'm a modern woman. I am totally down with splitting the bill. But then Steve the I. So needless to say, I was not having a good night. So I run home, I call my mother, I call my sister, and as I do, at the end of each one of these terrible, terrible dates, I regale them with the details. And they say to me, "Stop complaining. I'm going to shove it into my bag, I'm going to have this email template, and I'm going to fill it out and collect information on all these different data points during the date to prove to everybody that empirically, these dates really are terrible.

So I started tracking things like really stupid, awkward, sexual remarks; bad vocabulary; the number of times a man forced me to high-five him. So I started to crunch some numbers, and that allowed me to make some correlations. So as it turns out, for some reason, men who drink Scotch reference kinky sex immediately. Well, it turns out that these probably weren't bad guys. There were just bad for me. And as it happens, the algorithms that were setting us up, they weren't bad either. See, the real problem here is that, while the algorithms work just fine, you and I don't, when confronted with blank windows where we're supposed to input our information online.

Very few of us have the ability to be totally and brutally honest with ourselves. The other problem is that these websites are asking us questions like, are you a dog person or a cat person? Do you like horror films or romance films? I'm not looking for a pen pal. I'm looking for a husband. So there's a certain amount of superficiality in that data.

So I said fine, I've got a new plan.

Data and dating: Amy Webb gives her thoughts on online romance

I'm going to keep using these online dating sites, but I'm going to treat them as databases, and rather than waiting for an algorithm to set me up, I think I'm going to try reverse-engineering this entire system. So knowing that there was superficial data that was being used to match me up with other people, I decided instead to ask my own questions.

What was every single possible thing that I could think of that I was looking for in a mate? So I started writing and writing and writing, and at the end, I had amassed 72 different data points. I wanted somebody was Jew-ish, so I was looking for somebody who had the same background and thoughts on our culture, but wasn't going to force me to go to shul every Friday and Saturday.

I wanted somebody who worked hard, because work for me is extremely important, but not too hard. For me, the hobbies that I have are really just new work projects that I've launched. I also wanted somebody who not only wanted two children, but was going to have the same attitude toward parenting that I do, so somebody who was going to be totally okay with forcing our child to start taking piano lessons at age three, and also maybe computer science classes if we could wrangle it. So things like that, but I also wanted somebody who would go to far-flung, exotic places, like Petra, Jordan.

I also wanted somebody who would weigh 20 pounds more than me at all times, regardless of what I weighed.