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

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

I wanted to find out why the women who were popular on these dating websites — because the algorithm certainly wasn’t helping me, right? I wanted to know why they were popular. So I looked at their vocabulary and language. I looked at the length of the profiles; they had their senses of humor, how they describe their career, I looked at their height and their weight, what they were listing. I looked at photos, and I was also categorizing the amount of time that it took for them to make the first interactions. My family always said I couldn’t possibly email or talk to a guy first, that I would seem too aggressive. That I had to wait for them to come to me and I wanted to find out if that was true.

So started collecting data over that month and I was looking at both qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative data show that aspirational language like “love” and “like” and “fun” would never describe something like a building as “fun.” But I learn that the popular women do.

I was also looking at quantitative data. Now we all think that everybody lies about their weight. Would you believe that more women online are actually lying about their height, rounding significantly down, than are lying about their weight? It’s one of the interesting things that I found out. After this month I had enough data now to create what I called a super profile. It was an amalgam of what I had found from the popular women that was very much personalized to me. And that’s when I gamed the system.

So I created a new profile with different photos. I was honest about my height and my weight. I can’t help the fact that I’m 5’6″ and not a size 2. But I did shorten what I had originally written in my profile significantly. I now used aspirational language, I mentioned my career but it wasn’t the focus. And suddenly I was the most popular woman on all of these websites. I had a full inbox for the first time in my entire life. I had men coming at me from every direction, every single guy out there wanted to date me. And what that allowed me to do, was to go back in and from this enormous pool of men apply my own framework, my own algorithm if you will, and the problem in doing this was that even the best of the men that were out there only scored 650 points.

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My friends and family said, “Are you nuts? Everybody out there wants to go out with you. You’re still being too damn picky!” And that’s when I found this guy. So, immediately I like the way that he looked. I’m into baldies. I really loved what he wrote as his job — he said that he was an arctic baby seal hunter — and I thought he was pretty awesome. And, since he immediately scored 800 points I thought – you know – maybe my system is working.

So we started chatting, I emailed him first. My data showed me that I was able to do that, unlike what my grandmother had said my entire life, it was OK to be a little aggressive. I waited 20 to 22 hours until our next interaction although it pained me greatly every single time. I didn’t get specific about my job, the specific things that I like to watch, or the specific places that I like to go to, until our third interaction.

In the meantime I kept scoring him. Three weeks later we went out on our first date. It lasted 14 hours and it was one of the most amazing dates of my entire life. At the end of that date, I went back home, and I scored him again. He went over the 1000 point threshold and I thought, “You know what? This entire time that I’ve been listening to everybody’s advice. I haven’t been picky enough! I was too afraid to go out there and ask for and demand what I really wanted.”

Well, a year after that first date we were traveling in Petra, Jordan. Real traveling, when he got down on his knee, and asked me to marry him. We called my parents, they were thrilled, and a year after that we were married. A year after that our daughter, Petra, was born. So obviously I’m very happy and having a fabulous life but what does this mean for all of you?

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Well, what this means, whether or not you’re single, is that you have to be fearless, and if everybody around you is telling you that you shouldn’t be asking for the things that you really want, tell them to take a hike. It’s OK to be fearless and to ask for what you really want and to demand it. And whether or not you’re dating or doing something else, develop your own set of data points and your own framework. Construct one for qualitative and quantitative analysis and start gaming your own system. So I wrote a book about all of this, and it’s called “Data, a love story.” It’s on pre-order now. It will be in bookstores all over the place Jan, 31st. I hope you want to read it and to tell everybody else to read it. And that’s it, thank you very much.

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