Gaming Online Dating In Data, A Love Story

December 24, 2013 Memoir, non-fiction 11

online dating in data, a love storyTitle: Data, A Love Story
Author: Amy Webb
Source: library
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Summary: The online dating analysis was interesting, but I didn’t always find the author relatable.

I have several friends who have tried online dating. In every case, the horror stories outnumber the good dates I hear about ten to one. After discovering for herself how often online dating can go horribly wrong, the author Amy Webb decided to use her data analysis skills to game online dating. She would figure out exactly what she wanted in a guy; create a scoring system to determine which guys were worth a date; and learn from popular female profiles in order to craft her own. It worked too, as she met her husband on her first post-analysis date.

I love data as much as the next girl (see post, I Love Data). Even so, the author often exceeded my geekiness quota when she sent numeric ratings of her dates to friends…from the bathroom during her dates, multiple times on the same date.  Copy-pasting her resume into her dating profile also struck me as pretty crazy. As you might guess from that little fiasco, some of the things she discovers about improving her profile are a bit obvious. I also had problems with the authors attitude on dating. In non-fiction as in fiction, I like a strong heroine. A heroine who is so desperate for a date that she interacts with other women using a man’s profile to collect data doesn’t check that box for me. Logging onto online dating sites as a man and interacting with women also crossed an ethical boundary, in my opinion.

At other times though, the author was what I liked about the book. She’s funny, she’s interesting, and she’s admirably up-front about her flaws. We also share a love of algorithms, although I disagree with the way she chose to dumb them down for the book. Fortunately, she has an appendix that clarifies how algorithms work, which made me like her even better. She also has a final section in which she extracts general advice from what she learned. She is very upfront about the fact that her “research” really only proved this works for her. I think I would have liked this more as an idealized romantic comedy. Some of the author’s oversharing and geekiness could be air-brushed away. We could focus more on the cute story of how she meets her husband and how he reacts when she tells him about her rating scheme. And there could still be an appendix with a short description of the true story, plus the author’s useful advice.


11 Responses to “Gaming Online Dating In Data, A Love Story”

  1. Jennine G.

    This sounds a lot like a memoir I read this past summer called MWF seeking BFF, by Rachel Bertsche. She is new to town and basically takes out ads, friend dating, etc to “friend date” a set number of woman. There are dry parts, but also many times where she talks about what it takes to be friends with someone…everything that goes into a friendship successfully forming. So overall I’d say I felt about it how you describe Data, A Love Story.

    • DoingDewey

      I also read MWF Seeking BFF and I liked it a bit better than this one, mostly because I related better to the author. I agree they’re very similar though 🙂

  2. Charlotte @ Thoughts and Pens

    What an interesting book. I wish I could buy this and give it as a gift to my friends who are interested in online dating. I am quite apprehensive though because they might take offense.

    I will tell you a secret… when I was in high school, I got interested in online dating because it was the trend during that time here in the Phil (around the 1990s)… what with the internet just gaining popularity. Sadly, it felt a traumatic experience on me. I managed to chat with some people and I didn’t have an idea what usually goes when you’re chatting. And some of the of these people are so blunt so as to ask me things that I wouldn’t mention here. Having said that, my chat sessions always ended up with me fighting with those people I’ve chatted with.

    Overall, after those not so good experiences, I stopped chatting and avoided dating sites. even though some of my friends are urging me to retry again.

    • Charlotte @ Thoughts and Pens

      Sadly, it WAS a traumatic experience FOR me.

      Hahaha. I think I am still high from the Christmas foods I’ve eaten and I am having trouble typing coherent words.

      • DoingDewey

        Haha, no worries. I always seem to find typos after I submit a comment!

        Although I’ve loved blogging and have only had positive interactions with other bloggers and authors, in most other forums I prefer not to interact with people online. I think it’s likely that I’d share your distaste for the chatting aspect of online dating. For some people, politeness seems to go out the window when you’re talking online and best case scenario, it can be very difficult to read the nuances of a conversation without facial expressions to go by. If you do decide to dive back in, I with you luck!

  3. Sophie

    Hm, this definitely sounds like it could be made into a good (or better) fictional story. From the examples you gave, the heroine does sound pretty desperate and over-the-top! After reading your review, I’m contemplating on getting The Signal and the Noise for myself and Data for a friend who’s trying out online dating right now, haha. 😛

    • DoingDewey

      Oh, you should definitely get The Signal and the Noise! I loved that book 🙂 And although this wasn’t my favorite memoir ever, I do think it could have some useful information for someone trying online dating.

  4. Allison @ The Book Wheel

    This sounds like a fun book. I actually worked at a dating service company and met my husband on Myspace (although, dating wasn’t our intention – I was moving to a new place and just needed some advice on where to go and now we’re married). SO, I might have to read simply because I am one of the lucky ones.

    • DoingDewey

      Aw, I think that’s a great “how we met” story 🙂 What did you do at the dating service company? It seems like that’s a job which could involve anything from interesting data analysis for fun interactions with people, depending on what you were doing.

  5. Laurie C

    I’ve never tried online dating, but I know a few people who have. I kept meaning to read MWF Seeking BFF, but never did. This one sounds interesting, too!

  1. Weekly Paper (11) | Paper Breathers

    […] @ Doing Dewey reviewed Data, A Love Story by Amy Webb and thought that “the online dating analysis was interesting, but [she] didn’t always find […]

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