Love in the time of data

For the author of "Data: A Love Story," finding her perfect match was as easy as...creating the right matrix.

Image of Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match
Author: Amy Webb
Publisher: Dutton Adult (2013)
Binding: Hardcover, 304 pages

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?"

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
Image of Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match
Author: Amy Webb
Publisher: Dutton Adult (2013)
Binding: Hardcover, 304 pages
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Funny, I did not have the same take on the story-- but I was startled at how the guest was willing to unabashedly admit on nationally syndicated radio their shallowness concerning some of the things that are important to them when seeking a mate.

The guy's height and hair are major considerations?!? Is the author a teenager? I don't think I want to spend the time or money on a book written by someone that intellectually feeble.

Well Lark, i guess we should all check in with you to learn what should be important to us. Did it ever occur to you that she might start out with a wish list, then back off a notch or 2 if doesn't find it? Whereas hair can only be considered a personal preference, height does help with compatible sex. Did she say we all should use her criteria? I'll bet we could find plenty to laugh at if we knew what turns you on. So next time just keep quiet unless you have something better to say. I haven't read her book and don't intend to, but the concept deserved more respect than your and Kai's flippant remarks gave.

I did not hear this particular interview, but agree wholeheartedly about the host's arrogant and smug demeanor in general. The content is so interesting...I never thought I would listen to a "business" program, but it is much bigger than that. However, over the years the host has become so haughty and editorial, I do not tune in as often, or tune out when he gets "holier than thou".

Not surprisingly, snooty, snotty Kai butchered a good story. Here was a woman without previous dating success online or otherwise, so creates a methodical, logical approach which works and is now happily married. Then she shares the experience via a book. Instead of objecting to any particulars in the book, he just dissed the whole concept of finding a solution through logical analysis (a concept that has applications beyond dating.) This smug jerk decided to minimalize and ridicule the guests. I recommend that APM management read this book, create a matrix for a proper host of this show, then replace this self-possessed buffoon with someone competent. 'preciate your giving thought to my perspective.

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