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How I Gamed Online Data to Meet My Match: Amy Webb at TEDxMidAtlantic (Transcript)

So I would send out these email templates and I was tracking things like the number of times the guy tried to high-five me. If you want to touch me, by all means, touch me, but don’t force me to stick my hand in the air. And the number of times he abused the English language and over time I had amassed quite a bit of data. And that allowed me to make some correlations. For example — For example, the number of times I got high fived the more times that guy was to abuse the English language. The more shots he ordered, the more likely he was to lie about his job.

And speaking of alcohol, for some reason, and I still can’t figure out why, Scotch drinkers were more likely to immediately talk about kinky sex right when we sat down, than anybody else. And this may not be surprising, but lawyers were 62% more likely to pull up their mobile phone and stare into it than me, and compared to some of the other people that I went out with.

Now listen, these weren’t necessarily bad guys; they were just bad for me but the problems, actually were the dating algorithms that we’ve all come to rely on those of us who are online. Now to be sure, algorithms in dating are actually not a new thing in history; we’ve had matchmakers in every culture and my culture is Jewish and we had matchmakers, too and the matchmakers for us would be looking at things like whether or not the girl and the boy would get along, what the rabbi would say, whether the community would agree, whether or not they’d have kids and even I, in the process of setting up my friends and coworkers when asked had sort of my own formula that I was using.

Would they have the same interests? Would they get along? And what was the probability that this entire thing was gonna become a pain in my ass for which I’d be paying later on. So I want to fast forward to the worst date ever and I’m gonna spare you the details but let’s summarize by saying I smoked an entire pack of cigarettes and went through a whole bottle of wine in a short amount of time.

And then in my drunken state called my sister and I said, “That’s it. I’m done. I’m finished with online dating sites.”

And she said to me, “Don’t do that. Don’t you remember Mary Poppins?”

I said, “What are you talking about? Mary Poppins?”

And she said, “Remember in the movie how the kids had gone through all of those nannies and none of them worked and what did they do?” Does anybody remember? They made a list. Right? Those two kids started writing down every single possible thing they could want in a nanny and once they had that list it wound up going up a chimney and poof! Mary Poppins appeared. And I thought, “That’s it, Hillary You’ve nailed it. I’m going to stop “least expecting” all of this. I’m going to create my own Mary Poppins list to find a husband.”

And so in my drunken state that’s exactly what I did. I started writing. And I wrote down every single possible thing that I could think of, from height to the amount of body hair that I found acceptable to the kind of musicals that I would agree to listen to and I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. And by the end of this exercise I had come up with 72 attributes — things that I was going to demand in any person that I would date from here on out.

Now, 72 seems like a lot and I had a whole bunch of scrawled notes and it was really hard to, sort of figure out you know, who would meet all of those qualifications. I had to parse that list. So I thought about all of the people that I’d ever dated and what things on that list, the good things that they had in common. I thought about the attributes that were important to my family because my family and I are very close and there are lots and lots of them and the last thing I need is any more complaining. And attributes that were important to me.

And once I had all of that figured out I came up with a list of weighted scores so I had my top tier list and my secondary list. And in my top tier list were points that were pretty high, I had lots of different things. So I wanted someone who was Jew-ish, like me. Not religious but very culturally tied, everything. I also wanted somebody who would want to have kids with me so these are pretty normal things.

But I also thought that the stuff on my second tier list was just as important. So I weighted those slightly differently and I was very specific about what I wanted so I was looking for somebody, for example, who liked to travel but not cruise-ship travel that’s not what I would call traveling. I wanted somebody who was ready to strap on a backpack and get out and hike around. I was also looking for somebody who was not fat and not skinny, but would always weight 20 pounds more than I did — regardless of what I weighed at that moment.

So, anyhow — I had my top tier and my second tier and now that I had all of this figured out still in the same night in my drunken state, I developed a scoring system so for 700 points, I would agree to email the guy for 900 points I would go on a date and for 1500 points I would consider him for a long-term relationship. So I had set some minimum thresholds and I thought, “This is really, really smart.” Right? I am no longer gonna go out with everybody. I’m gonna have to only go out with men who meet these different criteria.

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By Pangambam S

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