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The Big Book

Love in the time of data

Kai Ryssdal Feb 5, 2013
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This interview may ring true for some of you — those who’ve eventually realized they’re looking for love in all the wrong places.

If that sounds familiar, then you’ll relate to Amy Webb‘s story, in which she tries and fails in online dating — and tries again. And this time, she does those matching algorithms of those online dating sites one better. Her new book is called “Data: A Love Story.”

Webb says “the old adage that true love will find you when you least expect it — therefore you should sit around and wait”  isn’t a good strategy in any potential conceivable sense.

After several disastrous online dates (and blind dates set up by friends and family), Webb decided to create her own matrix based on some very specific details — a list of 72, to be exact. She says, “I really had no idea what I was looking for besides a husband.”

Webb’s master list included height requirements and a love of musicals (but not “CATS”). She says the key was to get as specific as possible.”If I made a list, the list might have said well, smart, funny…and those are analogous to making a grocery store list that said meat and produce.”

She says, others could personalize her system for their needs. “As long as you have a list and you prioritize that list in some way, using stickers, using checkmarks, using emoticons, whatever makes sense. That framework can be totally personalized and individualized for everybody.”

And Webb’s story has a happy ending.

Three weeks after putting her matrix to work, she found a match. And they went on a date. And now they’re married.

Her husband, Brian calls himself “very, very lucky.” Webb showed him the list after their first couple of dates. He says he went through the list and checked off all the qualities he had. And he says, “I had this brief moment of, did she conjure me?”

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